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WASHINGTON D.C., January 3, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – U.S. President Donald Trump responded to criticisms over the morality of building a wall along the southwest U.S. border, saying that the Pope has one too to protect his country. 

“When they say the wall’s immoral, well then you got to do something about the Vatican, because the Vatican has the biggest wall of them all,” Trump told the press at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday. 

“Look at all of the countries that have walls, and they work 100 percent,” Trump added. “It’s never going to change. A wall is a wall.”

The barriers around the Vatican City State date to the time of Pope Leo IV (847–855) to offer protection from Muslim marauders. They were later reinforced as fortifications that were built under Popes Paul III (1534–1549), Pius IV (1559–1565), and Urban VIII (1623–1644). The walls mark the legal boundaries of the Vatican, separating it from Italy. Admission to Vatican City is through St. Peter’s Square, where Vatican City police control entry to the sovereign territory.

In February 2016, during the midst of the presidential campaign in the U.S., Pope Francis suggested that “building walls” instead of “building bridges” is not Christian. On his flight from Mexico to Rome, the pope was asked about the burgeoning humanitarian crisis on the U.S. southwest border. While he did not urge Catholics to refrain from voting for then-candidate Trump, the pope did speak to the issue of immigration reform. “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not the Gospel,” the pope said. 

In response, Trump called the remarks “disgraceful.” In a statement, Trump said, “No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man's religion or faith.” 

Trump asserted, “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.” 

Later, Trump said at a debate hosted by CNN: “I don't like fighting with the Pope,” adding, “I like his personality; I like what he represents.” Having claimed that Mexican officials had made disparaging remarks about him, Trump said that the pope’s remarks were “much nicer” than had been reported by the media. Even so, Trump pointed out then that the pope has an “awfully big wall” at the Vatican.

Since December 22, the federal government has been in a partial shutdown because of disputes in Congress over the president’s bid for border wall funding. On Wednesday, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he fears that the shutdown could go on for weeks. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), reiterated on Wednesday that Democrats will not permit funding for Trump’s wall. “Nothing for the wall,” she told NBC’s “Today” show.