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The Vatican on Friday tried to tamp down a firestorm ignited by Pope Francis' comments assailing Donald Trump's views on U.S. immigration as "not Christian", assuring the Republican presidential front-runner that it was not a personal attack or attempt to influence the U.S. campaign.
Francis told reporters during a conversation on his flight home from Mexico on Thursday, "A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian."
Trump has said if elected president, he would build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border to keep immigrants from illegally entering the United States.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told Vatican Radio the pope's comments, in response to a reporter's



question on Trump, were an affirmation of his longstanding belief that migrants should be helped and not shut out. He said the pope believed people "should build bridges, not walls".
"In no way was this a personal attack, nor an indication of how to vote," Lombardi said.
Trump, who leads Republican candidates in opinion polls, lashed out on Thursday, dismissing the pope's remarks as "disgraceful" for questioning his faith.
"If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS (Islamic State), which as everyone knows is ISIS' ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president," Trump said. Later, during a television appearance, he rowed back, calling Francis "a wonderful guy."

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