Pope Francis has questioned the Christian faith of US Republican Presidential aspirant, Donald Trump following the latter’s vow to build a wall at the US-Mexico border to keep out immigrants.
Pope Francis who was on a visit to Mexico was quoted as saying on Thursday:
“Anyone, whoever he is, who only wants to build walls and not bridges is not a Christian”.
He was responding to a question about Trump’s anti-immigrant stance.
The pontiff said:
“Vote, don’t vote, I won’t meddle. But I simply say, if he says these things, this man is not a Christian. “We need to see if he really said them and for this I will give him the benefit of the doubt.”
And Donald Trump reacted.
In a statement delivered on a campaign stop in South Carolina, Trump said:
“For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful,”
But hours later, at a townhall event, the real estate tycoon softened his tone and heaped praise on the pontiff.
“Oh, the pope is a wonderful guy. I have a lot of respect for the pope. I think he’s got a lot of personality, he’s very different, a great guy, and I think he’s doing a very good job, he has a lot of energy.
“If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which as everyone knows is ISIS’s ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president because this would not have happened”
Trump said the pontiff was misinformed, unaware of the impact of the drugs coming into the United States and a range of security issues that make it necessary to build a wall.
The leading Republican presidential candidate also said he would welcome an opportunity to meet the pope.
Trump has gained popularity by claiming Mexico is sending criminals to the United States, and last week he accused the pope of visiting the border between the two countries at the bidding of the Mexican government.