Trump to Pope: When ISIS comes to Rome you'll pray I'm president

Pope Francis and GOP presidential hopeful Donald J. Trump © Stringer
Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump accused Pope Francis of being a pawn of the Mexican government and called his criticism “disgraceful.” After a visit to Mexico, the pontiff said that building only walls and not bridges was “not Christian.”

“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," the Pope told reporters on his way back to Rome from a five-day visit to Mexico.

The press aboard the papal plane eagerly reported the pontiff’s remarks, understood to be referring to Trump’s campaign promise to build a wall along the Mexican border. Asked if he was urging American Catholics not to vote for Trump, however, the Pope said he would not get involved with the election.

“I say only that this man is not Christian if he has said things like that,” the pontiff said.

Trump fired back at the pontiff, calling the questioning of his Christianity “disgraceful” and accusing the Mexican government of manipulating 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,” Trump said in a statement

Donald Trump has made the pious leader the latest victim of his verbal attacks.

Posted by RT America on Thursday, February 18, 2016

“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,” the candidate continued.

READ MORE: Trump ties Pope for 2nd place as most-admired man in America

Trump accused the Mexican government of bad-mouthing him to the pontiff, who only heard their side of the story.

“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,” Trump said.

Trump’s campaign was also quick to point out that the Pope himself lives in a walled-off city, with spokesman Dan Scavino tweeting out a satellite photo of the Vatican’s walls.

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough followed up with a photo of tourists lined up outside one the walls of Vatican City.

The 110-acre Vatican City is the world’s smallest sovereign state, almost entirely enclosed by walls dating back to the mid-16th and early 17th century.

Modern additions were built in 1929, when a treaty between Italy and the Holy See confirmed the city’s status as the seat of papal power. The only exception is the eastern side of St. Peter’s Square, which opens to a grand avenue – Via della Conciliazione, or Conciliation Road – built between 1936 and 1950.

According to reporters aboard the papal plane, Pope Francis was willing to give the billionaire businessman “the benefit of the doubt” until he heard exactly what Trump had said about the illegal immigrants and the walls needed to stop them.

Trump himself praised the pontiff in 2013 as “a humble man, very much like me.”