On the plane trip home from Mexico to Rome, American journalist Phil Pullella depicted Republican candidate Donald Trump as an odious person who would heartlessly split up families and thinks only of building walls, and then asked the Pope whether American Catholics can vote for him.
The Pope responded to the Reuters reporter that anyone who thinks only of building walls and never of building bridges is no Christian, since this way of thinking is foreign to the gospel. But he also questioned the accuracy of the reporter’s depiction of Trump.
“I would only say: if he said these things, this man is no Christian,” Francis said. “But we’d have to see whether he said these things. And in this matter, I would give him the benefit of the doubt.”
Pullella set the Pope up by praising him for the “eloquence” of his messages on the immigration problem while contrasting him with Trump, who openly criticizes the pope as a pawn of the Mexican government and wants to build an immense wall, deport 11 million immigrants and tear their families apart.
The journalist then proceeded to ask “what you think of these accusations against you” and “whether an American Catholic can vote for a person like this.”
The pope answered first with humor, saying that “thank God he said I am political, since Aristotle defines man as a political animal: At least I am a human being!”
Regarding “whether or not I am a pawn, I really don’t know,” he continued. “I leave that up to your and other people’s judgment.”
Francis said that “a person who only thinks of building walls, wherever he is, and not about building bridges, is no Christian. This is not in the gospel.”
“And what you asked about whether I would advise you to vote for him or not, that’s none of my business,” Francis said. “I would only say: if he said these things, this man is no Christian. But we’d have to see whether he said these things. And in this matter, I would give him the benefit of the doubt.”
In an email to Breitbart News, William Donahue of the Catholic League said he thought “the pope was set up” and that “the question to the pope inaccurately reflected Trump’s views.”
Donahue noted that Pullella told the pope that Trump “wants to deport 11 million illegal immigrants, thus separating families” which is “patently false.”
On August 16, 2015, Chuck Todd, on “Meet the Press,” asked Trump, “You’re going to split up families. You’re going to deport children?” To which Trump said, “Chuck—no, no. No, we’re going to keep the families together. We have to keep the families together.”
When asked where they would go, Donahue noted, Trump said, “We will work with them.”
“So the pope was misled,” he said.
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