The National Catholic Review

“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the Gospel,” Pope Francis stated when responding to questions regarding Donald Trump.

These questions were prefaced by information that Trump has announced that if he were to become president of the United States he would deport 11 million illegal immigrants from the country, in that way separating families, and build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

When asked “if an American Catholic could vote for a person like this?” Francis responded, “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 says things like that.” Then, in relation to Trump, he added, “We must see if he said things in that way and in this I give the benefit of the doubt.”

When told that Trump in a recent interview had said that Pope Francis is a political man, and indeed perhaps a pawn of the Mexican Government when it comes to the policy of immigration, he responded with humor:

Thank God he said I am a politician because Aristotle defined the human person as an 'animal politicus' (a political animal). So at least I am a human person. 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.

Francis’ words are sure to resonate loudly in the U.S. political campaign, but it is worth noting that he never mentioned Trump by name and even said he gives him the benefit of the doubt as to whether he actually said such things regarding the immigration measures mentioned.

The pope refused to get involved in the U.S. presidential regarding how Catholics should vote, just as he refused to get drawn into the ongoing debate in the Italian parliament regarding same-sex marriages, and the adoption of children by homosexual couples. (The Parliament is about to vote on these questions.)

He told the questioner: “The pope doesn’t get mixed up in Italian politics. At my first meeting with the [Italian] bishops in May 2013, one of the three things I said was: with the Italian government you’re on your own. Because the pope is for everybody and he can’t insert himself in the specific internal politics of a country. This is not the role of the pope, right?”

When a second questioner recalled that a 2003 document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said Catholic members of Parliament should not vote for such legislation, and asked what he thinks, Francis replied: ‘A Catholic parliamentarian must vote according to his well-formed conscience. I would say just this. I believe it is sufficient because—I say well-formed because it is not the conscience of what just seems to me.”

These questions were some of the high-points of an hour-long press conference in which the pope responded to 12 questions, in Spanish and Italian, and showed no sign of tiredness even after a grueling week in Mexico, with an earlier stop over in Cuba. Indeed, he was full of energy.


ara mar | 8/5/2016 - 8:29pm

does that mean that the pope approves of all of Hillary clintons speeches?

Secondly, he is the head of a tax free country, essentially untouchable why would he comment on american political candidates which are really none of his business. How about the child abuse permitted for many many years in the church. He is not the one to comment on anyone elses christian behavior. I expect my comments to be censored for suppression of any opposition. There is a saying "People who live in glass houses shouldnt throw stones."

Matt McGonegle | 2/19/2016 - 9:14am

Kudo's to Mike Escil and Peter Connor insights. Justifiable anger is good(Jesus in the Temple-analogous to U.S. Chamber of (Crony-Corporatism) Commerce. They, and D.C. (R)'s in-cahoots for depressed wage workers. Thus hurting opportunities for our middle/lower class to obtain decent wage jobs! The (D)'s are advocating open borders for now/future voters, promising them growing gov't services/programs-$ that will crush our children's future.
Trump's positions have no depth nor workability. He's just monopolizing on American's "fed-up"ness!-Tariff wars, pro-abortion Supreme Court nominee, expanding Fed. Gov't etc.,etc. $ donations to Reid, Pelosi, Schumer, McConnell, Clintons...Quid Pro Quo-what was he "buying"? If u limit/make efficient/limit overreach(i.e. EPA)-u create environment where economy takes-off, like it did circa 1900-1930 w/cars,phones,planes etc. inventions and assoc.'ed employment!!!

Mike Escril | 2/19/2016 - 12:15am

How about the United States adopts the same immigration laws as Mexico, the country he just visited ? Foreigners are not allowed in except under strict foreign ownership of most property....illegal immigration punishable by 10 years in jail.....foreigners may not vote in elections.

If it's good enough for Mexico, why not the U.S. ?

Janean Stallman | 2/19/2016 - 12:44pm

Because, thank the Lord, we are not Mexico! We live in a democracy, and hopefully, treat people with dignity and respect, whether immigrants or citizens.

Peter Connor | 2/18/2016 - 11:18pm

While Donald Trump's behavior is unbelievable, unbecoming, and untenable for one competing to be the U. S. President, it's the crowd that lifts him up that is even more unbelievable. We should know about anger and what it can do to relationships of all kinds. Anger, when not abated, obliterates reason and good judgment. How Trump supporters continue to accept his trivial and low-level solutions for complicated and most sensitive political (both national and international), economic and social matters is insane. It brings to mind the adage, "Be careful what you wish for - you might just get it!"

Matt McGonegle | 2/18/2016 - 10:00pm

Read the Catechism: Every country has a sovereign right to protect itself. I.E. borders. Drones alert passage-they don't inhibit like a wall! A wall, by it's very existence would be compassionate-stopping human trafficking attempts. Compassion begins at home-giving jobs to our unemployed/impoverished, not saddling our children w/crushing debt from gov't/healthcare/educational $ for illigal aliens. Want to be "compassionate"? Export our form of economy-capitalism & form of governance-democratic republic to THEIR countries. Why are they "Dreamers" & ur children not?

Janean Stallman | 2/19/2016 - 12:52pm

No one said our children aren't "dreamers." The idea that "compassion begins at home" is really contrary to gospel teaching. Who is our brother, sister, mother, father? Jesus wants us to do for others, especially the poor. Open your heart to those in need if you call yourself a Christian. At least Pope Francis has the courage to say what he believes is truth.

James Schwarzwalder | 2/18/2016 - 8:19pm

It would be a better use of federal funds to patch the interstate highway system using concrete than building a concrete wall on the Mexican/American border. With all the drones being produced, enhanced surveillance is a much less expensive and flexible technology than a wall.

Bill Mazzella | 2/18/2016 - 7:15pm

Francis is not naming anyone. He is saying anyone who would build a wall like that is not Christian. Which would apply to Cruz and Rubio as well.

ed gleason | 2/19/2016 - 1:08pm

Forget about the 'wall'.... Mexicans have proved they are the best tunnel builders the world has ever seen.
Wall building baloney is like talking about how the phalanx is the most advanced attack tactic.

Mike Escril | 2/19/2016 - 12:16am

Bill, then I guess the Vatican is housing atheists. Vatican City has a wall and illegal immigration is not allowed.

Joe Kash | 2/18/2016 - 5:54pm

"Who am I to judge?"

Kevin Murray | 2/18/2016 - 3:02pm

Pope Francis, bridge builder! So happy he is safely on his way home! We might add, "a person whose ideology is based on fear, greed and name calling is not presenting a Christian message!" Watch out, Papa, you might get sued!

William Rydberg | 2/18/2016 - 2:30pm

Good reporting America. I am starting to read a multiplicity of news reports about the comments (prominent among them from the NY Times - a prominent foe of the Catholic Church) stating that Pope Francis mentioned Donald Trump by name. The Game is a foot! Let's pray that the USCCB don't swallow the NY Times bait...

in Christ,

Memorial of St Flavian of Constantinople...

Vincent Gaglione | 2/18/2016 - 1:30pm

I have written at least twice to the "contact us" e-mail address on the NCCB website (and without any reply, no less) and I have added comments on this website to various articles, decrying the lack of an organized, well-publicized, and joint response of America's bishops - not just some position paper - on some of the current issues of undocumented immigrants and the threats of deportation and the destruction of families.
How refreshing that the Pope can actually define the positions of Trump on immigration issues as unChristian and even willingly give Trump the benefit of the doubt on what the press' questions imply to be Trump's actual positions!
There's a word in Spanish (which I will not use here) that defines in male physiological terms the strength and audacity of the Pope for his statement, in contrast to the responses and actions of the majority of the USA's Catholic Bishops on the same issues. When you can read in The New York Times about the direct involvement of Protestant ministers and organizations in the endorsement of either or both Republican candidates and the party, in my opinion the timidity of most of the USA's Catholic Bishops is almost sinful!

Mike Escril | 2/19/2016 - 12:17am

Not to mention liberal Jewish and Protestant ministers.

Bruce Snowden | 2/18/2016 - 5:28pm

Holy Father Francis is right in his assessment of Trump, who is nothing more than a trumpeter of hate and as the Pope said, "not Christian," but Francis was smart in making his comments without mentioning Trump's name.

Now let me offer a personal unsolicited opinion, for which of course, as just suggested, no one asked, but which is gladly volunteered as usual. There seems to be something radically wrong with Trump's sense of humanity. He is lacking in feeling and always on the defensive, something like an injured, or maltreated animal might be, a growler, not a happy greeter. Does he psychologically always feel threatened? I don't know, but there is something humanly askew about his heart, his judgment, which leads into the deep hole of moral confusion. Let's pray for him that true conversion will happen, "true conversion" nothing other than "turning one's self inside out" the kind of conversion the Gospel speaks about, towards the recognition of the real person one is, flaws and virtues fully viewed. .

Mike Escril | 2/19/2016 - 12:19am

Bruce, do Hillary and Bernie hate ? The Rich ? The middle class ? Catholics ? Faith-based institutions ? Religious freedom ? Italians ? Irish ? Germans? Poles ? WASPs ?

When is "hate" allowed and when is it not ? Can I hate socialism ? Naziism ? Big government ?

Bruce Snowden | 2/19/2016 - 11:19am

Hi Mike, I don't want to get into an extended back and forth on Pope versus Trump, but allow this little comment. Your question, "When is hate allowed?" Against a person, never, against ideologies, when they violate laws of God and legitimate human rights. Does Hilary et al hate? Everyone has the ability to hate, Christianity, which according to Chesterton "hasn't failed, it just hasn't been tried" mandates its people to continually "grow in love". The Pope's prime job is to teach the workability of love and reconciliation, the brother/sisterhood of all humanity under the Fatherhood of God - as a Christian, it should also be Trumps prime priority. That's what the Pope was saying and this is all I want to say. You know very well the answers to the questions you asked..