Asked about Donald Trump‘s views on immigration, Pope Francis said Thursday that anyone who wants to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border isn’t Christian.
Trump, a leading U.S. Republican presidential candidate, has promised to build a wall along the Mexican border from Texas to California and expel 11 million people who are in the country illegally if elected president. The Pope’s comments en route home from Mexico came hours after he prayed at the Mexico-U.S. border for people who died trying to reach the United States.
“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” Francis said. “This is not in the Gospel.”
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.”
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another Republican presidential contender, has also supported building a border wall, and joked that he will make Trump pay for it.
Trump, a Presbyterian, last week criticized Francis’ plans to pray at the border. He said the move was ill-informed and showed Francis to be a political figure being exploited by the Mexican government.
“I don’t think he understands the danger of the open border that we have with Mexico,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News. “I think Mexico got him to do it because they want to keep the border just the way it is. They’re making a fortune, and we’re losing.”
Asked if he felt he was being used as a pawn of Mexico, Francis said he didn’t know.
“I leave that judgment to you, the people.”
But he seemed quite pleased to hear that Trump had called him a “political” figure, noting that Aristotle had described the human being as a “political animal.”
Republished with permission of the Associated Press.