Donald Trump has called Pope Francis “disgraceful” over the pontiff’s suggestion that he was "not a Christian" for plan to build a wall at the Mexican border.
Flying back to Rome from a trip to Mexico, the pope said: “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.”Trump responded swiftly at a campaign event in South Carolina saying: “For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful.”
“No leader, especially a religious leader, has the right to question another man’s religion or faith,” he told a packed room at a golf course resort. Trump then accused the Mexican government of “using the pope as a pawn”.
“They should be ashamed of themselves, especially when so many lives are involved and illegal immigration is rampant and bad for the United States.”
During his in-flight press conference, the pope insisted he did not mean to sway any Americans with his comments. “As far as what you said about whether I would advise to vote or not to vote, I am not going to get involved in that,” he said.
“I say only that this man is not Christian if he has said things like that. We must see if he said things in that way and in this I give the benefit of the doubt.”
In a press release timed to coincide with his rally, Trump suggested that the leader of the Catholic church would regret not supporting his candidacy. “If and when the Vatican is attacked by Isis, which as everyone knows is Isis’s ultimate trophy,” Trump said, “the pope can have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president because this would not have happened.
“Isis would have been eradicated unlike what is happening now with our all talk, no action politicians.”
But the billionaire said he did not take the pope’s remarks personally. “The pope said negative things about me because the Mexican government convinced him Trump is not a good guy,” he said.
“The Mexican government has made many disparaging remarks about me to the pope because they want to continuing ripping us off,” he added.
He also dismissed the pope’s remarks in general: “Now it’s probably going to be all over the world. Who the hell cares? OK? I don’t care.”