Pope Francis
Pope Francis Reuters

The Vatican on Friday sought to clarify Pope Francis’s tiff with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, reports the BBC.

The back-and-forth began after the Pope blasted Trump's plan to build a wall with Mexico to halt immigration into America as "not Christian".

Trump later responded and said, "No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man's religion or faith. I am proud to be a Christian and as president I will not allow Christianity to be consistently attacked and weakened."

Trump added that in the hypothetical case of an attack on the Vatican by Islamic State (ISIS), Francis would have wanted him to be president.

"If and when the Vatican is attacked by 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 because this would not have happened," Trump said. "ISIS would have been eradicated unlike what is happening now with our all talk, no action politicians."

On Friday, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said "in no way was this a personal attack" in a reference to the Pope’s remark.

He said it was the Pope's long-standing belief that migrants should be helped and not shut behind walls.

Lombardi stressed that Trump had not been singled out by Pope Francis and "nor was it an indication on how to vote" in the presidential election, according to the BBC.

He said the Pope believed people "should build bridges, not walls", referring to the thousands of migrants flocking onto European shores over the past 12 months.

"This is his general view, which is very consistent with courageously following the indications of the gospel on offering welcome and solidarity," added Lombardi.

Trump, despite his initial attack on the Pope, later softened his rhetoric, heaping praise on the Pope at a town hall event in South Carolina where he is leading the polls ahead of the state's primary on Saturday.

"I have a lot of respect for the Pope. He has a lot of personality and I think he's doing a very good job, he has a lot of energy," said Trump, according to the BBC.

He said the pontiff was misinformed when he criticized the proposed wall, because he was not aware of the drugs coming in and the other security problems that made a strong border a necessity.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)

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