Pope Suggests Trump ‘Not Christian,’ Trump Calls Remarks ‘Disgraceful’

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February 18, 2016 12:11 p.m.

This story has been updated.

On his way back to the Vatican after a six-day visit to Mexico, Pope Francis said Thursday that anyone who wants to build a border wall “is not Christian” when asked about Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump.

“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” His Holiness told reporters on board his airliner. “This is not in the Gospel.”

Because the Pope had not independently heard about Trump’s campaign promise to build a wall at the U.S. border with Mexico, he said he would “give him the benefit of the doubt.”

“I’d just say that this man is not Christian if he said it this way,” the Pope added.

Trump’s campaign quickly released a statement calling Francis’ remarks “disgraceful,” which the candidate read aloud at an event in South Carolina.

“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,” he said in the statement.

Trump also said if the Islamic State were ever to attack the Vatican, the Pope “would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been President.”

At the event, he also suggested the Mexican government is “using the Pope as a pawn.”

The Republican has previously heaped praise on Pope Francis. In December 2013 he tweeted about the new Pope: “I like him so much!”

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