Pope Francis shot back at real estate tycoon Donald J. Trump today, saying that anyone who prefers building walls to bridges is “not Christian.” His remarks came in response to Trump’s earlier dig at the pontiff, when the tycoon called him “political” and said Francis “doesn’t understand America’s problems.” Trump responded Thursday afternoon, declaring this attack “disgraceful.”
From ABC News:
When asked by a reporter, “Can a good Catholic vote for this man?” Francis responded by saying, “Thank God he said I was a politician, because Aristotle defined the human person as ‘animal politicus.’ So at least I am a human person. As to whether I am a pawn — well, maybe, I don’t know. I’ll leave that up to your judgment and that of the people.”
He continued: “And then, a person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the gospel. 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. I say only that this man is not Christian if he said things like that. We must see if he said things in that way and in this I give the benefit of the doubt.”
The Associated Press had a more nuanced take, but could not hide the fact that Francis said “a person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.”
Not having heard Trump’s border plans independently, Francis said he’d “give him the benefit of the doubt.” But he added: “I’d just say that this man is not Christian if he said it this way.”
Francis’ comments came at the close of his trip to Mexico, which included a public mass at the border in Juarez. The pope prayed for the migrants who tried to cross that border — an act that might be considered overtly political in an election year in which illegal immigration has become a key issue.
Trump has already begun his “yuge” retaliation:
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) February 18, 2016
In other news, Christians are asking Pope Francis not to make them agree with Trump.
— Ben Howe (@BenHowe) February 18, 2016
Ironically, the Vatican is contained within an ancient walled city, the Civitas Leonina, whose fortifications date back to the ninth century A.D., after a sack of Rome by the invading Muslim Saracens. No word as to whether the Vatican will tear down that wall any time soon.