Donald Trump fired back at Pope Francis in a rally Thursday afternoon in South Carolina, saying the pope would wish for a President Trump “if and when” the Islamic State were to attack the Vatican.
“For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful,” Trump said in a lengthy statement.
Trump was responding to a comment from the pope earlier in the day that questioned Trump’s faith because of the Republican presidential front-runner’s caustic approach to illegal immigration.
“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” the pope said after his six-day visit to Mexico, according to The New York Times.
After being asked whether he would try to persuade American Catholics to vote for a different candidate, the Catholic leader said he “was not going to get involved in that.”
“I say only that this man is not Christian if he has said things like that,” the pope added, again referring to Trump’s continued promises to build a wall along the US-Mexico border.
Trump often touts his Presbyterian faith while making his pitch to evangelical voters on the campaign trial.
Trump read his statement Thursday at his campaign rally at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina. Trump warned that the Islamic State terrorist group, also known as ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh, was planning to attack the Vatican.
“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. “Because this would not have happened.”
He also reminded his audience that he is “a very nice person.”
“The pope is being told that Donald Trump isn’t a nice person,” he said. “OK. Donald Trump is a very nice person — I am a very nice person. And I’m a very good Christian.”
In an earlier Thursday interview with Breitbart News on Sirius XM Radio, Trump was asked about the pope’s statement from Wednesday during a mass near the US-Mexico border. The Times reported then that the pope spoke broadly about “the humanitarian crisis which in recent years has meant the migration of thousands of people.”
Trump said in the radio interview that he respected the pope.
“I heard the pope and I respect the pope and I love the pope in many ways,” Trump said earlier Thursday. “I love what he stands for and I like his attitude. He’s very independent and he’s very different. He’s sort of a modern-day pope if you think about it.”
Trump then went into discussing what he thought to be “tremendous” crime happening in Mexico, with drugs “pouring” through the border.
“It’s not coming from us — it’s coming from the other side,” he said. “And I made a pretty strong argument and I talked about the wall very quickly and it got picked up. And he could have been persuaded. I don’t know. But I really respect the fact that he sees both sides. You know a lot of people are inflexible — they won’t change.”
“The Pope isn’t bring told that. The Pope is bring told that Donald Trump isn’t a nice person. OK. Donald Trump is a very nice person and I am a very nice person, and I’m a very good Christian.
Here’s Trump’s full Thursday statement responding 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 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.
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