Speaking to reporters aboard his plane after a visit to the U.S-Mexico border, Pope Francis questioned Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's sincerity as a Christian, citing his rhetoric on immigrants.
“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” Francis said , questioning the billionaire's plan to build a wall along the border. Trump responded in a statement that it was "disgraceful" for a religious leader to question anyone's faith.
"No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man’s religion or faith," Trump said. Mexican officials, he charged, had filled the impressionable pope's head with bad information: "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."
Dan Scavino, a senior adviser to Trump's campaign, posted a Tweet Thursday noting the fact that the Vatican itself is surrounded by a wall.
Throughout his papacy, Francis has spoken about immigration and the importance of welcoming the stranger -- as he has welcomed refugees to the Vatican to live. During a trip to the United States in September, Francis, the Catholic Church's first leader from Latin America, urged Catholics to offer immigrants with "the warmth of the love of Christ."