(BREITBART) – The Pope’s harsh words for Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump last February seem not to have hurt the candidate’s popularity among Catholics, which actually increased by more than 20% since the pontiff’s unfortunate remarks.

According to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll, during the 50 days prior to the Pope’s suggestion on Feb. 18 that Trump is “not a Christian,” his popularity among Catholic Republicans averaged just 39.8 percent, whereas in the 50 days since that date his support has shot up to an average of 47.9 percent, an increase of 20.4 percent.

On the plane trip home from Mexico to Rome last February, Reuters journalist Phil Pullella told Francis that Republican candidate Donald Trump had accused the Pope of being a “pawn” and a “politician,” and favored deporting 11 million immigrants, heartlessly splitting up families and building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Pulella then asked the Pope whether American Catholics can vote for “a person like this.”

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