During the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, a 19th-century Sudanese woman who fled from her homeland to Europe and became a nun, Pope Francis issued an unsubtle critique of President Donald Trump's immigration policies.
On Feb. 8, Francis asked attendees of his weekly catechism lesson to reflect on both the plight of human trafficking victims and the story of St. Bakhita, a Sudanese immigrant who sought refuge in Europe during the 19th century. Trump recently signed an executive order placing a travel ban on citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Sudan.
"In the social and civil context as well, I appeal not to create walls but to build bridges," Francis said, according to the Associated Press. "To not respond to evil with evil. To defeat evil with good, the offense with forgiveness. A Christian would never say 'you will pay for that.' Never."
Francis did not refer to Trump directly, but his denouncement of ordering others to pay for a wall appears to be in reference to the president's ongoing attempts to compel Mexico to fund his proposed border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
On Jan. 26, Trump took to social media to suggest that Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto should not even bother to arrive for a scheduled diplomatic meeting in the U.S. after Mexican officials asserted that paying for the wall was not up for negotiation, according to Al Jazeera.
Nieto promptly canceled his planned trip.
Francis has criticized Trump before for his immigration policies, saying that the president's rhetoric on immigrants and border security do not reflect Christian values.
In February 2016, Francis blasted Trump's proposed border wall during a trip to Mexico, according to CBS News.
"A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not of building bridges, is not Christian," Francis said. "This is not the gospel."
Trump responded by calling Francis' comments "disgraceful ... No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man's religion or faith."