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All is well: Trump calls Pope Francis 'terrific'

By Ann Marie Awad
All is well: Trump calls Pope Francis 'terrific'
Donald Trump, followed by this two sons, in 2013. Photo by UPI.

VATICAN CITY, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- A day after Donald Trump slammed Pope Francis for questioning his faith, the real estate mogul praised the pontiff as a "terrific person."

"I think he's a terrific person, frankly," Trump told Fox News on Friday.

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"But to me it's illegal immigration," he continued. "I don't think the Pope really understood, in terms of the crime problem and the problems of illegal immigration."

Friday morning, a spokesman for Pope Francis said the pontiff's remarks that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is "not Christian" were not meant as a personal attack.

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Francis' remarks earlier this week were in response to Trump's proposal to deport millions of illegal immigrants and construct a fortified border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

"A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the gospel," the pontiff said Thursday. The remarks prompted a swift rebuke from Trump, who called them "disgraceful."

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A spokesman for the Vatican sought to ease tensions Friday, saying that the Pope's remarks were consistent with things he's said in the past.

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"The Pope said what we already know, if we followed his teachings and positions: we shouldn't build walls, but bridges," the statement said. "He has always said that, continuously. He also said that in relation to immigration in Europe many times. So this is not a specific issue, limited to this particular case. It's his generic view, coherent with the nature of solidarity from the gospel."

The spokesman also reiterated Francis' stance that he does not seek to weigh in on American politics.

"This wasn't, in any way, a personal attack or an indication on who to vote for," the statement continued. "The Pope has clearly said he didn't want to get involved in the electoral campaign in the U.S. and also said that he said what he said on the basis of what he was told [about Trump], hence giving him the benefit of the doubt."

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In a Fox News survey, 86 percent of respondents agreed sided with Trump in the back-and-forth, while just 7 percent sided with Pope Francis.

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