A war of words sprung up between GOP frontrunner Donald Trump and Pope Francis over the weekend after Francis accused Donald of holding views which make him “not Christian.”
After a trip to Mexico, the pontiff sent a pointed shot at Trump’s announced plans to keep out immigrants by building a wall on the US-Mexico border, saying on Thursday, “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.”
Trump quickly responded while campaigning at a golf course resort in South Carolina. “For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful,” he said.
“No leader, especially a religious leader, has the right to question another man’s religion or faith,” he continued before going on to say that the Mexican government was using the Pope as a “pawn” and “should be ashamed of themselves for doing so, especially when so many lives are involved and illegal immigration is rampant and bad for the United States.”
Trump also warned that “if and when” ISIS attacks the Vatican, which “as everyone knows is ISIS’s ultimate trophy”, the Pope would have only “wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been President because this would not have happened.”
The Vatican responded defensively to the media circus sparked by the feud, attempting to clarify Pope Francis’s remarks as general rather than specific to Trump. “The pope said what we well know, when we follow his teaching and his positions: that one mustn’t build walls, but bridges,” said a Vatican spokesperson on Vatican Radio on Friday, NBC News reported.
“He has always said this, continuously. And he has said it also about migration issues in Europe, very many times. Thus, it’s not at all a specific question, limited to this case,” the spokesman concluded.
Evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr., a Trump supporter, spoke out against the Pope’s comments, telling CNN, “Jesus never intended to give instructions to political leaders on how to run a country.”
The Trump-Pope spat is unlikely to have a significant negative effect on Trump’s campaign, as his base of religious support is made up largely of evangelical Christians, not Catholics.