February 19, 2016 / 2:47 PM / a year ago

Pope's comments on Trump not a personal attack: papal spokesman

2 Min Read

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis's suggestion that Donald Trump was "not Christian" because of his views on immigration was not a personal attack on the U.S. Republican presidential candidate, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said on Friday.

Pope Francis gestures during a meeting with the media onboard the papal plane while en route to Rome, Italy February 17, 2016.Alessandro Di Meo/Pool

Lombardi told Vatican Radio that the pope's comments, made to reporters during a flight back from Mexico in response to a specific question on Trump, were simply an affirmation of his long-standing belief that migrants should be helped rather than shut off behind walls.

"In no way was this a personal attack, nor an indication of how to vote," Lombardi said.

Trump, the longtime Republican party front-runner in opinion polls, dismissed the pope as "disgraceful" for questioning his faith. He has said that if elected president in November, he would build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border to keep out immigrants who enter illegally.

Lombardi said the pope believed people "should build bridges, not walls". He added: "This is his general view, which is very consistent with courageously following the indications of the gospel on offering welcome and solidarity."

Reporting by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Philip Pullella

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