Pope says Trump ‘not Chris­tian,’ Trump calls com­ment ‘dis­grace­ful’

Metro USA (Boston) - - NEWS - REUTERS

Pope Fran­cis as­sailed Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump’s views on U.S. im­mi­gra­tion as “not Chris­tian” on Thurs­day, prompt­ing the bil­lion­aire busi­ness­man to rep­ri­mand the religious leader as “dis­grace­ful” for ques­tion­ing his faith.

No stranger to con­tro­versy, Trump, the long­time party front-run­ner in na­tional opin­ion polls, has vowed if elected pres­i­dent to build a wall be­tween the United States and Mex­ico to keep out im­mi­grants who en­ter il­le­gally.

In a free­wheel­ing con­ver­sa­tion on his flight home from a visit to Mex­ico, Fran­cis told re­porters, “A per­son who thinks only about build­ing walls, wher­ever they may be, and not build­ing bridges, is not Chris­tian.”

The pope said he did not want to ad­vise Amer­i­can Catholics on whether or not to vote for Trump, and it was not im­me­di­ately clear what im­pact his re­marks would have on Repub­li­cans likely to vote in the Nov. 8 elec­tion.

Repub­li­can Catholics ap­pear to sup­port Trump more than other Repub­li­cans do, ac­cord­ing to a Reuters/Ip­sos opin­ion poll.

As of 2014, 71 per­cent of the U.S. pop­u­la­tion iden­ti­fied as Chris­tian, 21 per­cent of them Catholic, ac­cord­ing to the Pew Re­search Cen­ter.

Asked if Amer­i­can Catholics should vote for some­one with Trump’s views, Fran­cis said, “I am not go­ing to get in­volved in that. 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,” he said.

Trump, a real es­tate de­vel­oper and for­mer re­al­ity TV star, said, “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,” Trump said in a speech in Ki­awah Is­land, South Carolina, us­ing an acro­nym for the Is­lamic State mil­i­tant group.

“For a religious leader to ques­tion a per­son’s faith is dis­grace­ful,” he said. Trump has said on oc­ca­sion, and again on Thurs­day, that he is a proud of be­ing Chris­tian but em­pha­sized early in the cam­paign that he does not talk about his faith as much as oth­ers might.

Pope Fran­cis speaks to jour­nal­ists aboard the flight from Mex­ico to Italy on Thurs­day. GETTY IM­AGES

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