Pope Francis, flying back to Rome from Mexico, took time to rip Republican Donald Trump as a non-Christian for his views on immigration and border control.
As CNN reported, the pontiff did not directly tell Catholics who to vote for in the much-contested Republican primary. But he did make clear his distaste for Trump and his views that America should clamp down on immigration to allow for intelligence and security officials the time to properly develop better border control. Trump’s also vowed on past occasions to build a wall between Mexico and America, and make Mexican authorities pay for it.
“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” the pope said, to journalists along for the ride. “This is not in the gospel.”
He then followed up with this: “As far as what you said about whether I would advise to vote or not to vote, I am no going to get involved in that. I say only that this man is not Christian if he has said things like that.”
Trump was quick to respond, saying he was a “proud” Christian and the pope was being used by the Mexican government to advance its own border message.
“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 said, Fox News reported. “He doesn’t see how Mexican leadership is outsmarting President Obama and our leadership in every aspect of negotiation. … [Mexico is] 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.”
And Trump added: “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 pope’s comments came on the tail end of a tour through spots in Mexico with a stop at the border with the U.S., in Ciudad Juarez, a town known for its drug-cartel violence, where the pope paid tribute to migrants who’ve died trying to reach the United States, located just feet away.
And at least one conservative columnist and pundit, Ben Shapiro, took up pen to denounce the pontiff’s rally.
“Funny, he never did that while visiting Cuba to pay tribute to those who died attempting to escape that Communist hellhole,” he wrote, in Breitbart. “[The pope instead] reserved his spite for a nation with one of the most generous immigration policies on the planet.”
According to Reuters, the pope blessed three planted Christian crosses and said: “We cannot deny the humanitarian crisis. Each step, a journey laden with grave injustices: the enslaved, the imprisoned and extorted … Let us together ask our God for the gift of conversion, the gift of tears, let us ask Him to give us open hearts like the Ninevites, open to his call heard in the suffering faces of countless men and women. No more death. No more exploitation.”
The pontiff made the remarks on the heels of saying capitalism worked against God’s will and that God would punish “slave drivers of our days” for exploiting workers and furthering “the flow of capital [to] decide the flow of people,” Breitbart reported.
And Shapiro’s reaction?
“This is, simply put, asinine,” he wrote. “The reason for the humanitarian crisis driving people north is the corrupt anti-capitalist governance so common to Latin America – the same sort of governance the pope believes is apparently more godly than the capitalism drawing people like a magnet to the United States. So the same system the pope decries is the system the pope wants inundated with victims of those who oppose the system. How ironic. Even more ironic: the Vatican remains one of the most immigration-restrictive states on Earth.”
In 2015, social-media posters responded to the pope’s calls for a borderless America by pointing to Vatican City’s own security walls.
Alongside a photo of the wall, one Twitter poster, Villi Wilson, wrote: “Obviously the Pope doesn’t want any illegal immigrants either. Looky wall around the Vatican. TEAR DOWN THAT WALL!!”
Another, Adam Graham, tweeted, alongside another photo of the high wall: “maybe you missed the giant wall around Vatican City. Here’s a pic for you.”
And yet one more, alongside a different photo angle of the wall: “Can #PopeFrancis have a huge wall for protection? YES HE CAN!!!”