Evangelist Franklin Graham offered up some advice to Pope Francis following the pontiff's suggestion that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is "not Christian" due to his tough immigration stance: "Reach out and build a bridge to Donald Trump."
Graham, who took aim at the pope's controversial comments in a Facebook post published on Thursday, said that, though he agrees with the pontiff's sentiment about reaching out to others, he believes in having a strong national security system.
"I agree that as Christians we should try to build bridges with everyone that we possibly can, but that doesn’t mean that we should compromise our national security," Graham wrote. "Donald Trump isn’t the only one who wants to build a wall — other Republican candidates Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Dr. Ben Carson, and John Kasich as well as millions of Americans, also want to build a wall."
The evangelist, who is president and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, said that the goal of the wall is to protect Americans from enemies who might seek to permeate the U.S.-Mexico border will ill intent.
"Are they not Christian either?" Graham asked of the other candidates and citizens who agree with Trump. "My advice to the Pontiff — reach out and build a bridge to Donald Trump. Who knows where he may be this time next year!"
As TheBlaze previously reported, Pope Francis suggested that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump “is not Christian” during remarks that he made while aboard the papal airline on Thursday — and Trump was quick to respond to the pontiff.
“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” Pope Francis said after a reporter asked about Trump, according to the New York Times. ”This is not in the gospel.”
The comments did come with a caveat, though. After Pope Francis reiterated his criticism, he said, “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 in this I give the benefit of the doubt.”
The “things like that” reference appears to be in relation to the pope’s critique of Trump’s call to deport illegal immigrants and to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, though the clarification raised questions about how much Pope Francis actually knows about Trump’s official stance.
The Republican businessman was quick to respond to Pope Francis, sending the following email statement: “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.”