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Donald Trump calls Pope 'disgraceful' after questioning his Christian faith

New York business man 'surprised' at Pontiff's comments

Published 18/02/2016

The Pope has criticised Donald Trump's immigrations plans.
The Pope has criticised Donald Trump's immigrations plans.
Pope Francis on the banks of the Rio Grande, where he prayed for a group of migrants (AP)

Pope Francis has branded Donald Trump's plan to build a wall along the American border with Mexico as "unchristian" with the American presidential hopeful retaliating by describing the pontiff's comments as "disgraceful".

The Pontiff was speaking at the end of a five-day visit to Mexico.

Donald J. Trump responds to Pope Francis' remarks: "I'm a very good Christian...he's questioning my faith and I was very surprised to see it." abcn.ws/1SUzhlX

Posted by ABC News on Thursday, 18 February 2016

In response to the Pope:If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which as everyone knows is ISIS’s ultimate...

Posted by Donald J. Trump on Thursday, 18 February 2016

New York businessman Trump supports deporting nearly 11million undocumented immigrants and said that Mexico exported "rapists and criminals" to America.

Pope Francis, when asked what he thought of Mr Trump's campaign pledge to build a wall along the entire length of the border and expel millions of people in the US illegally,  said: "A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not of building bridges, is not Christian. This is not the gospel."

Mr Trump hit back ferociously, saying it was "disgraceful" for a religious leader to question a person's faith.

The Presbyterian and the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, responded within minutes.

"The Pope is being told that Donald Trump is not a nice person," he said.

"Donald Trump is a very nice person and I'm a very good Christian. I was surprised to see him question my faith, but I am a Christian and I am proud of it."

The rare back-and-forth between pontiff and presidential candidate was the latest development in an American election already roiled by Trump's rhetoric and controversial policy proposals, particularly on immigration.

It also underscored the pope's willingness to wade in on controversial issues.

Mr Trump also raised the prospect of the Islamic State extremist group attacking the Vatican, saying that if that happened, "the pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president because this would not have happened".

Later he retweeted a series of tweets from people showing the wall around the Vatican.

The billionaire businessman said later that he was "totally respectful" of the pope but stood by his initial response.

Francis, the first pope from Latin America, has been a vocal proponent of compassionate immigration policies.

While Trump's rhetoric has been among the most inflammatory, some of his rivals have staked out similar enforcement positions. Texas Sen Ted Cruz and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson are among those who have explicitly called for construction of a wall.

Former Florida Gov Jeb Bush, one of the few GOP candidates proposing a path to legal status for people already in the US illegally, said Thursday that he supports "walls and fencing where it's appropriate."

"The American dream is dead. But if I get elected president I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before and we will make America great again."
"The American dream is dead. But if I get elected president I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before and we will make America great again."
"Love him or hate him, Trump is a man who is certain about what he wants and sets out to get it, no holds barred. Women find his power almost as as much of a turn-on as his money."
On Barack Obama: "Obama is going to be out playing golf. He might be at one of my courses. I would invite him, I have the best courses in the world. I have one right next to the White House."
"You have to think anyway, so why not think big."
"Everything in life is luck."
"What separates the winners from the losers is how a person reacts to each new twist of fate."
"If you're interested in balancing work and pleasure, stop trying to balance them. Instead make your work more pleasurable."
"I just sold an apartment to China for $15million to somebody from China. Am I supposed to dislike them? I love China. You know where their United States headquarters is located? In Trump Tower."
"When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're sending people that have lots of problems. They're bringing drugs. They are bringing crime. They're rapists."
I will build a great wall - and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me and I'll build them very expensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words."
"Free trade is terrible. Free trade can be wonderful if you have smart people. But we have stupid people."
"Some of the candidates, they went in and didn't know the air conditioner didn't work and sweated like dogs and they didn't know the room was too big because they didn't have anybody there. How are they going to beat ISIS?"
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump mocks reporter Serge Kovaleski's disability. While waving his arms around he said: "Now the poor guy [Kovaleski] — you ought to see the guy: ‘Uhh I don’t know what I said. I don’t remember.’ He’s going, ‘I don’t remember. Maybe that’s what I said."
Mr Trump told ABC's Good Morning America that banning Muslims was warranted because the US is essentially at war with Muslim extremists who have launched attacks including last week's shooting in San Bernardino, California, that killed 14. "We are now at war," he said, adding: "We have a president who doesn't want to say that." "Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life."
Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump assures America he has no size issues during Republican presidential primary debate at Fox Theatre, Thursday, March 3, 2016, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (AP)
An protester against Donald Trump holds a burning T-shirt outside the Republican's rally in Albuquerque (AP)
After the Orlando nightclub mass shooting - the worst in American history - Donald Trump tweeted: "Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart! "

Mr Bush said that while he gets his guidance "as a Catholic" from the pope, he doesn't take his cues from Francis on "economic or environmental policy".

Marco Rubio, another Catholic seeking the GOP nomination, said that Vatican City has a right to control its borders and so does the United States.

Mr Rubio said he has "tremendous respect and admiration" for the pope, but he added, "There's no nation on Earth that's more compassionate on immigration than we are."

Even before Thursday's exchange, Mr Trump had been critical of Francis's visit to Mexico. He said last week that the pope's plans to pray at the border showed he was a political figure being exploited by the Mexican government.

Francis glossed over the assertion that he was a pawn of Mexico, telling reporters on his plane that he would "leave that up to your judgment."

During his visit to Mexico, the Pope also told bishops to get closer to their flock and ease their suffering, and visited some of the country's poorest and most violent areas to shine a spotlight on residents' harsh reality.

Francis also aimed another message north of the border at a time of increasingly tough presidential campaign rhetoric on immigration in the US.

The pope appealed for governments to open their hearts to the "human tragedy" of forced migration, imploring: "No more death! No more exploitation!"

Francis stopped short of calling outright for the US to open its borders, but he urged recognition that the multitudes fleeing gangland killings and extortion in their homelands are victims.

"We cannot deny the humanitarian crisis which in recent years has meant the migration of thousands of people, whether by train or highway or on foot, crossing hundreds of kilometres through mountains, deserts and inhospitable zones," he said.

"They are our brothers and sisters, who are being expelled by poverty and violence, drug trafficking and organised crime."

Before the Mass, Francis paused at the border for a silent prayer in memory of migrants who died trying to reach the US.

He also blessed several hundred migrants sitting on the other side of the fence.

It was the most poignant moment of his trip, but he began to turn heads even before his plane touched down in Mexico.

Flying in from the Vatican on Friday, he first landed in Havana for a historic meeting and embrace with Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church, the first such encounter since the schism that divided Christianity a millennium ago.

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