Presidential candidates are being asked to weigh in on a political spat they likely never thought would happen: Pope Francis vs. Donald Trump.
Pope Francis said Thursday that Trump’s calls to build a wall along the border show he is not a Christian; Trump responded by calling the Pope “disgraceful.”
Ben Carson has jumped to Trump’s defense. “I have spoken often about the need for faith and compassion in America,” Carson, a former neurosurgeon and devout Seventh Day Adventist, said in a statement. “However, enforcing our immigration laws is not in contradiction with love and kindness. As Christians, we are called to love our neighbors. But as a nation, we must also defend our sovereignty and security.”
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said he didn’t want to make a judgment on the issue until he had seen the Pope’s full comments, but said, “We’re a sovereign country, and we have a right to control who comes in, when they come in and how they come in… Vatican City controls who comes in, when they come in and how they come in as a city state. And as a result, the United States has a right to do that as well,” the Guardian reports.
That’s a point that Trump’s social media director also made on Twitter Thursday:
Other candidates, possibly wary of getting in between the leader of the Catholic church and their party’s frontrunner, were more tepid in their responses.
“His Christianity is between him and his creator,” former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said of whether or not Trump is a Christian. As for the Pope’s statement about walls (“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian”), Bush said, “I don’t know what that means. I support walls and fencing where it’s appropriate, for sure … I think it’s okay as a Catholic to get my guidance as a Catholic from the Pope but certainly not economic policy or environmental policy.”
“Listen, that’s between Donald and the Pope,” Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said of the issue, according to Politico. “I’m not going to get in the middle of that. I’ll leave it to the two of them to work it out.”
Besides Trump, Cruz has been the most vocal candidate calling for a border wall.