Pope Francis was interpreted as slamming Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump when he said that his immigration policy was “not Christian.” The business mogul responded by calling the pontiff “disgraceful” and implied that the Catholic leader was a hypocrite.
On Feb. 18, Pope Francis was on a return flight after visiting Mexico when reporters asked him to offer his take on Trump’s immigration policies, CBS News reports.
“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” Pope Francis said. “This is not the Gospel.”
Trump was quick to respond, calling the pontiff “disgraceful” for questioning his faith.
Trump launched his presidential campaign in 2015 by promising to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, adding that he would force the Mexican government to pay for it.
The business mogul has also pledged to deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants from the U.S. if he is elected president.
The GOP candidate called Pope Francis a “pawn” of the Mexican government.
“He’s got an awfully big wall at the Vatican, I will tell you,” Trump added, implying that the pontiff was not practicing what he preached.
This sentiment was echoed by Trump’s senior adviser, Dan Scavino, who tweeted out an image of the Vatican, its security border highlighted, the National Sun Times reports.
“Amazing comments from the Pope - considering Vatican City is 100 percent surrounded by walls,” Scavino wrote.
Trump’s tone seemed to soften just hours later, during a South Carolina town hall.
“I don’t like fighting with the pope actually -- I don't think it's a fight, I think he said something much softer than originally reported by the media,” the GOP candidate said.
He added that he was not concerned that this scuffle with the pontiff would impact his support, The New York Times reports.
“I don’t know if it will influence many Republicans who like the pope or don’t like the pope, but what influences them is that they want a sealed border,” Trump said.