NEW YORK (TIP): No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man’s religion or faith,” Pope Francis said in statement. Trump added that the government in Mexico, where Francis spent the past five days, has “made many disparaging remarks about me to the Pope.”
“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,” Trump said.
The tussle between Trump and Francis — two outsized personalities who seldom shy from speaking their minds –seems to have been building for some time. Before the Pope traveled to Mexico, Trump cast the pontiff as a political naif who “doesn’t understand the dangers” at the U.S.-Mexican border.
Mr. Trump has alleged that Mexico sends “rapists” and criminals to the US.
The Pope made light of Trump’s accusations
“Thank God he said I was a politician because Aristotle defined the human person as ‘animal politicus.’ So at least I am a human person,” he said. “As to whether I am a pawn, well, maybe, I don’t know. I’ll leave that up to your judgment and that of the people.”
“The benefit of the doubt”
The Pope appeared somewhat unaware of Trump’s exact stance on illegal immigration, though, saying that he would give him “the benefit of the doubt” until he had heard exactly what the billionaire businessman had said.
Asked whether American Catholics should vote for Trump, Francis demurred.
“As far as what you said about whether I would advise to vote or not to vote, I am not going to get involved in that. I say only that this man is not Christian if he has said things like that.”
But it was his comments on Trump that seem sure to dominate the political conversation, perhaps handing a gift to Trump’s GOP opponents and opening Francis to criticism that his papacy is too partisan and his policies too liberal. Polls indicate that while Democrats adore the Pope, Republicans view him a little less favorably.