During a Feb. 18, 2016 in-flight press conference, Reuters reporter Philip Pullella asked the Pope to respond to Donald Trump's immigration stand.
Pope Francis answered: "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 added he would "give the benefit of the doubt" to the political candidate.
One week prior, Trump had bashed Pope Francis as a "pawn" for the Mexican government and "a very political person" who does not understand the problems of the United States.
Holy See spokesman Father Federico Lombardi on Feb. 19 told Vatican Radio that the Pope's comment "was never intended to be, in any way, a personal attack or an indication of how to vote" and had repeated a longstanding theme of his papacy, bridge-building.
The U.S. bishops have responded critically to the Trump administration's recent executive orders. One bars refugee admissions for 120 days and places an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees. It bars visa permissions for seven predominantly Muslim countries on the terror watch list and restrictions on refugees for 90 days.