Just when you thought Donald Trump‘s campaign for President couldn’t get any more bizarre, he goes and gets into a spat with the Pope.
In Trump’s defense, this is one fight he didn’t start. Reuters reported that Pope Francis attacked Trump’s views on U.S. immigration as “not Christian” on Thursday, which led to the billionaire businessman responding by saying it was “disgraceful” for the Pope to question his faith.
The Pope’s comments came as part of a question and answer session with reporters on his flight home following a visit to Mexico, according to CNN. Trump, who is leading nationally in the polls for the Republican nomination, has repeatedly said that he would put up a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to keep out illegal immigrants if elected President.
“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” the Pope reportedly said.
Trump responded to the comment quickly during a speech in South Carolina, where Republican voters will go to the polls on Saturday.
“If and when the Vatican is attacked by the 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,” Trump said. ISIS is an acronym used to describe the Islamic State militant group.
“No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man’s religion or faith,” Trump said, according to the New York Times.
Many of Trump’s detractors have pointed out the hypocrisy of Trump saying that a leader should not question another’s faith after Trump repeatedly questioned Ted Cruz’s beliefs last week.
How can Ted Cruz be an Evangelical Christian when he lies so much and is so dishonest?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 12, 2016
Trump had previously said that the Pope doesn’t understand the problem of the open border with Mexico.
“The pope is a very political person. I think he doesn’t understand the problems our country has. I don’t think he understands the danger of the open border that we have with Mexico,” Trump said.
Pope Francis responded to that remark in his comments Thursday.
“Thank God he said I was a politician because Aristotle defined the human person as ‘animal politicus.’ So, at least, I am a human person,” the Pope said.
It will be interesting to see if Trump’s poll numbers are affected at all by this latest controversy. Trump has shown remarkable resiliency so far, with his numbers sometimes actually improving after other controversial remarks. Among other scandals in the past year, Trump has questioned the courage of Senator John McCain who was once a war prisoner and blamed Republican President George W. Bush for 9/11.
Attacking the Pope doesn’t seem like it would be a winning strategy for the Republican nomination as the GOP base has long been home to many evangelical and other religion-based voters, but at this point, even most of the pundits are admitting that the 2016 campaign is anything but predictable.