VATICAN CITY -- The papal spokesman is stressing that Pope Francis often says build bridges, not walls, and that his remark while flying back from Mexico wasn't targeting U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Francis said Thursday that a person who advocates building walls for solutions is "not Christian." Trump, who has repeatedly called for a wall to divide the United States and Mexico, retorted it was "disgraceful" to question a person's faith.
The Rev. Federico Lombardi sought to clarify the issue Friday, telling Vatican Radio that Francis' comments were "in no way a personal attack nor an indication on how to vote."
Lombardi noted Francis often has advocated "building not walls, but bridges," especially regarding Europe, as it struggles to handle the arrival of hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war and poverty.
On Thursday night, Trump softened his rhetoric on the pope after blasting the leader of the Catholic Church. Trump said during a town hall event on CNN that he now believes the pope's remarks were "probably a little bit nicer" than first reported.
Trump said he believes the pope has only heard one side of the story, as told by the Mexican government, and isn't aware of the problems Trump claims are caused by a porous border.
Trump also said he has great respect for Pope Francis. Still, he couldn't help but offer a dig, noting that, "He's got an awfully big wall at the Vatican."
CBS News White House correspondent Major Garrett reports that building a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico remains a staple of Trump stump speeches -- an echo of the incendiary beginning to his campaign.
"They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people," he said on June 16, 2015 during his campaign announcement.