Donald Trump’s call to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border has prompted Pope Francis to question the Republican presidential hopeful’s Christianity.
“A person who thinks only about building walls… and not of building bridges, is not Christian,” Pope Francis said. The pope’s comment came in response to a question asked about Trump’s anti-immigration stand.
“Vote, don’t vote, I won’t meddle. But I simply say, if he says these things, this man is not a Christian,” Pope Francis said.
As reported by ABC.net.au, Pope Francis’ remarks elicited condemnation from Trump, who said in a statement he made at a campaign stop, “For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful. I am proud to be a Christian and as president I will not allow Christianity to be consistently attacked and weakened.”
Defending his stand on building the wall along the border with Mexico, Trump said, “The pope only heard one side of the story – he didn’t see the crime, the drug trafficking and the negative economic impact the current policies have on the United States. He doesn’t see how Mexican leadership is outsmarting President Obama and our leadership in every aspect of negotiation.”
He added, “They are using the pope as a pawn and they should be ashamed of themselves for doing so, especially when so many lives are involved and when illegal immigration is so rampant.”
Illegal immigration has been one of the main focuses of Trump’s campaign, FOX News reports. Trump’s comment last week about Pope Francis not understanding “the danger of the open border we have with Mexico” prompted the Vatican to respond, “The pope always talks about migration problems all around the world, of the duties we have to solve these problems in a humane manner, of hosting those who come from other countries in search of a life of dignity and peace.”
When asked about Trump’s referral of him as a “pawn, an instrument of the Mexican government for migration politics,” the pope said, “As to whether I am a pawn, well, maybe, I don’t know. I’ll leave that up to your judgment and that of the people,” as reported by Patheos.
Trump found support in his rivals, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush. While Rubio said that U.S. was obligated to keep a check and control its borders, Bush said that he “supports walls where it’s appropriate” and that “Christianity is between he and his creator. I don’t think we need to discuss that.”
Pope Francis’ comments were also criticized by Jerry Falwell Jr, the president of the conservative Christian Liberty University and a Trump supporter.
“Jesus never intended to give instructions to political leaders on how to run a country,” Falwell said.