According to the Vatican, the Pope’s comments questioning whether Donald Trump is a real Christian were “not a personal attack”.
Pope Francis earlier this week picked up on previous comments by Trump, who said he wanted to build a wall between the US and Mexico.
The head of the Catholic Church said: “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not of building bridges, is not Christian. This is not the gospel.”
Now the Vatican’s spokesman Father Federico Lombardi has said the comments were “in no way a personal attack”.
He said the Pope’s comments were his “general view”, and were not directed at Trump specifically.
“This is his general view, which is very consistent with courageously following the indications of the gospel on offering welcome and solidarity,” he said.
Trump, a self-declared “proud Christian” has said he supports deporting all 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US.
“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not of building bridges, is not Christian. This is not the gospel,” said the Pope.
“I say only that this man is not Christian if he has said things like that. We must see if he said things in that way and I will give him the benefit of the doubt,” the Pope continued.
Trump responded to the Pope’s comments, saying: “For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful. I am proud to be a Christian.”
“[The pope] said negative things about me. Because the Mexican government convinced him that Trump is not a good guy,” he went on.
The Pope and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church last week released a joint statement condemning same-sex marriage.