Christian leader Franklin Graham is urging Pope Francis to “build a bridge” to Donald Trump after the pontiff stepped into the 2016 presidential campaign with criticism of the Republican front-runner.
Speaking to reporters Thursday in-flight from Mexico to Rome, Pope Francis said: “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not the gospel.”
Graham, writing on his Facebook page, said: “My advice to the pontiff – reach out and build a bridge to Donald Trump. Who knows where he may be this time next year!”
The pope had been asked by a reporter to respond to Trump’s reference to him as a “pawn” for the Mexican government. Trump has vowed to build a wall along the Mexican border to prevent entry by illegal immigrants.
Wrote Graham: “I agree that as Christians we should try to build bridges with everyone that we possibly can, but that doesn’t mean that we should compromise our national security.
Graham, the CEO of the relief group Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, noted that “other Republican candidates, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Dr. Ben Carson, and John Kasich as well as millions of Americans, also want to build a wall – in order to protect America from enemies who want to use the U.S./Mexican border as a way to enter our country and do us harm.”
“Are they not Christian either?” Graham asked.
WND reported Thursday the criticism from Pope Francis triggered a response from Trump, who is leading in most national polls in the race for the GOP nomination for president.
Trump, a Presbyterian, called the pope’s comment “disgraceful” and said the pontiff apparently is not aware of crime linked with illegal immigration.
“If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS … I can promise you that the pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president because this would not have happened,” the billionaire told Fox News.
Addressing the pope’s criticism, author Ben Shapiro wrote for Breitbart: “Funny, he never did that while visiting Cuba to pay tribute to those who died attempting to escape that communist hellhole. [The pope instead] reserved his spite for a nation with one of the most generous immigration policies on the planet.”
Radio host Rush Limbaugh concurred with Shapiro and wondered why questioning President Obama’s faith is off limits while Trump’s is fair game.
“Has he questioned the faith of the Castro brothers?” asked Limbaugh. “Has the pope questioned the faith of any communist leaders?
“Don’t anybody ask about the president’s religion! Don’t even get close to going there. Don’t do it. That is a forbidden area. You cannot even ask about it. The pope can go ahead and claim that Trump is not a Christian, but you can’t go there when we’re talking about the president of the United States.”
Limbaugh went on to joke that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described socialist, may be “too far to the right for the pope.”
Nick Adams’ book, “The American Boomerang: How The World’s Greatest Turnaround Nation Will Do It Again,” is endorsed by the likes of Dr. Ben Carson, Glenn Beck, Dick Morris, Gov. Mike Huckabee and Dennis Prager
Several commentators pointed out the high walls that surround the Vatican.
Here is the full text of Trump’s statement responding to Pope Francis’ suggestion Thursday that the real-estate mogul isn’t Christian:
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 because this would not have happened. ISIS would have been eradicated unlike what is happening now with our all-talk, no-action politicians.
The Mexican government and its leadership has made many disparaging remarks about me to the pope, because they want to continue to rip off the United States, both on trade and at the border, and they understand I am totally wise to them. The pope only heard one side of the story – he didn’t see the crime, the drug trafficking and the negative economic impact the current policies have on the United States. He doesn’t see how Mexican leadership is outsmarting President Obama and our leadership in every aspect of negotiation.
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, unlike what is happening now, with our current president. No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man’s religion or faith. They are using the pope as a pawn and they should be ashamed of themselves for doing so, especially when so many lives are involved and when illegal immigration is so rampant.
Donald J. Trump