Pope Francis suggested Thursday that Donald Trump is “not Christian” for wanting to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not of building bridges, is not Christian. This is not the Gospel,” Francis told reporters aboard the papal plane after leaving Mexico, where he toured the U.S. border. The pontiff cautioned that he would not feel comfortable advising Catholics about how to vote.
Trump immediately fired back, saying “when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which as everyone knows is ISIS’s ultimate trophy, 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.” Trump has previously called Francis a “very political person.”
Other Republican presidential candidates have cautiously weighed in on Francis’s remarks.
Ben Carson said Thursday, “I would not weigh in on whether Donald Trump is a Christian or not.”
Marco Rubio, himself a Catholic, said, “Vatican City controls who comes in, when they come in and how they come in as a city state. And as a result, the United States has a right to do that as well.”
Jeb Bush, who converted to Catholicism in the 1990s, said that Trump's "Christianity is between he and his creator," in a statement provided to The Daily Beast. "I don't question anybody's Christianity, because I honestly believe that's a relationship you have with your creator. It only enables bad behavior when someone from outside the country talks about Donald Trump." Bush added that border protection is not an anti-Christian desire. "That's not an un-Christian thing to do, to make sure people do not come across our border illegally. That's a just thing."