Right-wing media criticized Pope Francis for suggesting Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump's proposals for mass deportation and his promise to build a border wall are not in line with Christian values. Right-wing media personalities demanded the Pope “ask [for] Donald Trump's forgiveness,” called him a socialist, and claimed he is a hypocrite due to the Vatican having a wall.
Pope Francis Suggests Trump's Immigration Stance Does Not Reflect Christian Values
Pope Francis: "A Person Who Thinks Only About Building Walls" And Not Bridges “Is Not Christian.” On February 18, Pope Francis responded to questions on Trump and his immigration stance while talking to reporters aboard his papal airliner following his six-day visit to Mexico, saying “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” later adding, “this man is not Christian if he has said things like that.” From The New York Times:
Inserting himself into the Republican presidential race, Pope Francis on Wednesday suggested that Donald J. Trump “is not Christian” because of the harshness of his campaign promises to deport more immigrants and force Mexico to pay for a wall along the border.
“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” Francis said when a reporter asked him about Mr. Trump on the papal airliner as he returned to Rome after his six-day visit to Mexico.
Asked whether he would try to influence Catholics in how they vote in the presidential election, Francis said he “was not going to get involved in that” but then repeated his criticism of Mr. Trump, with a caveat.
“I say only that this man is not Christian if he has said things like that,” Francis said. “We must see if he said things in that way and in this I give the benefit of the doubt.” [The New York Times, 2/18/16]
Right-Wing Media Slam Pope Francis For His Remarks
Fox's Robert Jeffress: Pope Francis “Needs To Ask Donald Trump's Forgiveness” For “Outlandish Statement.” During the February 18 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show, Fox News contributor Robert Jeffress claimed Pope Francis “needs to ask Donald Trump's forgiveness for making such an outlandish statement” :
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Reverend Falwell, there was a point where there was a priest, and by the way in fairness, Father Morris stuck his neck out for me, and one time that I said that I thought people that are not Catholics should use birth control, I prefer that over abortion. There was a priest who publicly on my TV show said that he would not give me the Eucharist if I went to his church. And then I said, “Well I guess I'll have to join Thomas Road Baptist Church” and your father in typical style said I'm welcome anytime I want. I personally believe Christianity is about sinners seeking reconciliation with God and for anybody to declare whether a person is a Christian or not a Christian, nobody reads people's hearts. that's for God to judge, isn't it?
ROBERT JEFFRESS: Sean, I think the Pope needs to ask Donald Trump's forgiveness for making such an outlandish statement. I want to remind our listeners that it was exactly one year ago this week that 21 Coptic Christians' had their heads chopped off by ISIS on a Libyan beach and then ISIS said, “we are coming to Rome next.” The Pope ought to think through that very seriously. And the fact that we have a candidate like Donald Trump who wants to protect America, that's not unbiblical. The Pope is confused between the role of the Church, which is to show compassion, and the role of government, which is to uphold order and to protect its citizens. And I want to make a prediction. I think the Pope has succeeded in doing what no other man on Earth could do, and that is creating a martyr in Donald Trump. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 2/18/16]
Sean Hannity: Pope Francis And Catholic Church Not “In A Position To Lecture Anybody On What It Means To Be Good Christians.” During the February 18 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show, host Sean Hannity said the Pope and the Catholic Church do not have the moral high ground “to lecture anybody on what it means to be good Christians.” Hannity added that the Pope with his remarks “has now inserted himself into this election, suggesting that Donald Trump is not a Christian” :
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Now I've got to tell you, I take this personally because I've lived this. There was some years ago a guy, who by the way I think now is in jail, I forget his name, a Father somebody, and he was very pro-life, and I had him on the TV show. And I said well for people that aren't Catholic, to be honest Father I'd prefer they use birth control than have abortions. And he said to me on national TV -- and again I was more Catholic at the time, I was raised a Catholic, I'm very -- I don't want to get into my faith here but I'm very angry at the Catholic church in a lot of different ways, I'm very discouraged. There's been centuries of corruption and issues involving the Church, the more recently the pedophilia scandal and the more importantly the cover up of the scandal and why didn't the Church, knowing that these crimes were being committed, turn these priests over to authorities so that they could get arrested and be prosecuted? They didn't do it.
So are all those priests, are they not Christians? Is the Pope is accusing Donald Trump of not being a Christian? What about all those people that knew about it and did nothing about it? Are they all Christians?
So the Church is not really in a position, I don't think, to lecture anybody on what it means to be good Christians. I think they got their own house, take the something out of your own eye before you can take it out of your brother's eye.
So Pope Francis has now inserted himself into this election, suggesting that Donald Trump is not a Christian. He said quote, “a person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.” He said when a reporter asked him about Mr. Trump on the papal airliner as he was returning to Rome after his 6-day visit to Mexico. Now the Pope has said other things that kind have ticked me off about capitalism. And I look at the Church and you look at St. Peter's and you look at St. Patrick's, which I think is one of the most beautiful churches in the entire world, and Notre Dame, and all these other places. The Church I think is one of the biggest land owners of property worldwide. Now if they really didn't like wealth and opulence I guess they can sell the Vatican, they can sell their expensive lands, they can sell their churches, and they can give all the money to the poor, and they can live in the woods someplace and eat berries and grow cabbage and live the life of paupers if that's what they really think Christianity's supposed to be. So this Pope likes to lecture on issues involving capitalism, and capitalism I think has been the single greatest ladder up and creator of prosperity for all people than any other system of government that's ever been designed. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 2/18/16]
Rush Limbaugh: “The Vatican Is Surrounded By A Wall And We Won't Even Talk About Who Built That Wall.” During the February 18 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show, host Rush Limbaugh criticized Pope Francis' remarks and implied he was a hypocrite by claiming “the Vatican is surrounded by a wall and we won't even talk about who built that wall.” Added Limbaugh, “given the Pope's political leanings I'm surprised he isn't on the campaign trail for Bernie Sanders” :
RUSH LIMBAUGH (HOST): Well, there's big news to open the program with. CNN just reporting that Il Papa, Pope Francis, upon boarding the pope jet on the return to Italy from Mexico said that Donald Trump is not a Christian. Man are they pulling out all the stops now. The Pope says that Donald Trump is not a Christian, because Christians do not build walls, they build bridges. Nevermind that the Vatican is surrounded by a wall and we won't even talk about who built that wall. But that's what the Pope said. And given the Pope's political leanings I'm surprised he isn't on the campaign trail for Bernie Sanders. But maybe Bernie Sanders is too far to the right for the pope. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 6/18/16]
Fox's Greg Gutfeld: Pope Francis Is A “Socialist Activist Pope.” During the February 18 edition of Fox News' The Five, co-host Greg Gutfeld claimed Pope Francis is a “very liberal to socialist activist pope,” claiming he is “the [Bernie] Sanders Pope” :
GREG GUTFELD (CO-HOST): I think I was the first to raise the alarm about this activist pope. We all know that he wants a show on MSNBC. He's been working for that because you know that's what he likes. He likes to talk about politics and he's talked about politics a lot. Look, you have to compare them to how he reacts to other political situations and realms. For example, the implosion of Venezuela, which is a socialist utopia currently just destroying itself. I think his response was to pray for peace. He didn't condemn any of the leaders, including leaders that oppressed the protesters. Instead, he said pray for peace. In this case, in an American situation, he is going after a nonviolent candidate who has different views than him. In my view I always have a problem with recasting any issue, whether it's economic or it's political as a religious one. And I know the Pope is religious. However, you have to be able to argue your point persuasively without your answer key. Because I may not adhere to your answer key, to your Bible or your Koran. It may not be for me so therefore you have to argue. If you're going to get into a political argument, you have to be able to argue your position using reason and morality that is not attached to religion. And I include the Pope in that. And I think, look this is an economic argument. This is about he is a very liberal to socialist activist pope. This is what he grew up in. He is Sanders. He is the Sanders Pope. He's not the Trump Pope. [Fox News, The Five, 2/18/16]
Tea Party News Network's Scottie Nell Hughes: Evangelicals Don't Want “Foreigner” Pope Francis Telling Us What To Do. During the February 18 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, Tea Party News Network news director Scottie Nell Hughes claimed evangelical voters “don't want to sit here and hear a foreigner [Pope Francis] tell us about how to handle things” regarding immigration:
WOLF BLITZER (HOST): If somebody would have said to you this morning Donald Trump, the man you want to be the next president of the United States, and the Pope are going to get into a little bit of a fight, would you have believed that?
SCOTTIE NELL HUGHES: I don't think anybody woke up this morning even thinking, remotely thinking, or any producer planning, that that was going to be the topic of every show going into tonight's headlines. And yet here it is. It's because of the Pope himself. Now it's interesting as we kind of dissect. There are groups of -- there are many Catholics that are saying, “no, the pope was not insulting Mr. Trump,” but then you've got all these evangelicals who are saying yes. They don't want to sit here and hear a foreigner tell us about how to handle things, especially when the United States has been dealing with immigration for 30 years. Here you have this Pope, relatively [new] on the scene, coming in and basically lashing out at one of our presidential candidates for a religious reason. Not necessarily a political reason, but from a religious stand point. [CNN, The Situation Room, 2/18/16]
Fox's Todd Starnes: “Has Pope Francis Started Dismantling The Walls Surrounding Vatican City?” In a February 18 tweet, Fox radio host Todd Starnes asked if Pope Francis had “started dismantling the walls surrounding Vatican City?” :
Has Pope Francis started dismantling the walls surrounding Vatican City?
-- toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) February 18, 2016
Ann Coulter: “American Catholics Defer To The Pope On Abortion, Adultery And Homosexuality -- Not Politics & Our National Sovereignty.” In a February 18 tweet, conservative commentator Ann Coulter wrote, “AMERICAN Catholics defer to the Pope on abortion, adultery and homosexuality -- not politics & our national sovereignty” :
AMERICAN Catholics defer to the Pope on abortion, adultery and homosexuality -- not politics & our national sovereignty.
-- Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) February 18, 2016
Breitbart News' Ben Shapiro: Pope Says “Who Am I To Judge” On Homosexuality But Claims People Who “Want Actual Borders” Are Not Christian. In a February 18 tweet, Breitbart News' Ben Shapiro wrote “Pope: 'Who am I to judge?' regarding homosexuals in the church. Pope: 'Not Christian' regarding people who want actual borders” :
Pope: “Who am I to judge?” regarding homosexuals in the church.
Pope: “Not Christian” regarding people who want actual borders.
-- Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) February 18, 2016
Erick Erickson: “Pope Francis Should Learn To Shut Up.” In a February 19 post on his website The Resurgent, Erick Erickson declared that the pope “needs to learn when to shut up” adding he “has no business” attacking Trump when he “only has incidental knowledge” of the situation:
Like Donald Trump, Pope Francis needs to learn when to shut up.
I may be a critic of Donald Trump's, but the Pope has no business attacking a candidate for President of the United States when, it is rather clear, the Pope really only has incidental knowledge of Donald Trump and the current American political dynamic.
So, respectfully, be quiet Francis. [The Resurgent, 2/19/16]
*This item has been updated with additional examples.