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RUSH: There is a story that Trump is backing away on his criticism of the pope. And the pope is backing away from his criticism of Trump. So here a couple of people that… The pope especially. This guy goes out and says things. And almost without fail, when he strays outside being the pope, when he ventures away and goes an outside the Vicar of Christ and gets involved in, say, in this case American politics, presidential race, invariably somebody at the Vatican has to walk it back. “No, no, no, no!” They say.

“That’s not what il Papa meant,” and then they “clarify.” And this is…? How many times now has this had to happen, that the pope said something…? Actually, the pope can be defended on this accurately. Bill Donohue… We have sound bites coming up, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League — who is a great guy. I’ve interviewed Bill Donohue for The Limbaugh Letter and I’ve watched him on TV. This guy’s a bulldog. This guy is fabulous at what he does. He’s one of the best people at what he does of any people doing what they do.

He defends Catholicism and he defends attacks on the church just famously well. I would think that this guy would be every pope’s best buddy. That’s just my guess and assessment. And we’ll have those two sound bites coming up, because apparently what happened was the pope was asked a rather — not complicated, but — detailed question, and the pope gave a detailed answer from which one sentence was called: “Well, if you build walls you’re not a Christian.” It turns out you can make the case that the pope was not even talking about Trump at that point.

But the media saw a golden opportunity here to stir the pot, and did. So anyway, Trump’s walking it back and he’s walking back.


RUSH: So yesterday at this time we were all under the impression that the pope had said that Donald Trump is not a Christian because the pope thinks that people that build walls instead of bridges are not Christian. Trump reacted. Thought he was a disgrace, the pope was disgraceful, what he said was disgraceful, and said that he was a Christian and it went on from there.

And as time went on, the pope, via Vatican spokesmen, sort of backed away, which happens. The pope ventures outside church matters, it seems like every time he does, he says something that the Vatican has to walk back. And Trump, for his part, has also moderated his tone, saying that he gets a lot of publicity, but he’s not comfortable with this publicity. And he’s not excited here about being in this knock-down drag-out with the pope. So both people have backed away.

Here’s Trump from, I guess this is last night, Columbia, South Carolina. You might want to say that one guy that Trump will not double down on is the pope. So it is during part two of their Republican town hall event, and Anderson Cooper said: “Mr. Trump how surprised were you by what the pope said? For those who don’t know, part of what he said was a person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges is not Christian. This is not the gospel. What do you say to that, Mr. Trump?”

TRUMP: I didn’t think it was a good thing for him to say frankly. The pope made the statement and I think it was probably a little bit nicer statement than was reported by you folks in the media. Because after I read it, it was a little bit softer. He also talked about having a wall is not Christian and he’s got an awfully big wall at the Vatican, I will tell you.

RUSH: And then Cooper said, “But, look, I remember you said to me you tried not to do things wrong so that you don’t have to ask for forgiveness. Was there a moment when you first heard the pope had said something about you that you thought maybe I’m going to have to ask for forgiveness?

TRUMP: No, no, look, I have a lot of respect for the pope. I think he’s got a lot of personality. He’s very different. He’s a very different kind of a guy. And I think he’s doing a very good job, a lot of energy. But I would say that I think he was very much misinterpreted. And I also think he was given false information. People that live in the United States —

COOPER: Would you like to meet with him and talk to him about it?

TRUMP: I’ll do it any time he wants. I think that would be very interesting. No, I like him. I like him, his personality. I like what he represents and I certainly have great respect for the position.

RUSH: There you go. See. Great respect for the position of pope. Well, from the Vatican side of things: “A spokesperson for pope Francis clarified the pontiffÂ’s criticism of Donald TrumpÂ’s plan to build a border wall, saying that the remark wasnÂ’t ‘a personal attack.’ On Thursday, the pope told reporters on his plane that building walls ‘is not Christian.’ But the pontiffÂ’s spokesperson said itÂ’s a comment heÂ’s made before, adding that the pope wants to avoid weighing in on American politics.”

Sorry, folks, that’s a little hard. He does weigh in. “‘The pope said what we already know, if we followed his teaching and positions: we shouldnÂ’t build walls, but bridges,’ the spokesperson said in a statement, according to CNBC. ‘ItÂ’s his generic view, coherent with the nature of solidarity from the gospel.'”

The spokesperson then said, “This wasnÂ’t, in any way, a personal attack or an indication on who to vote for. The pope has clearly said he didnÂ’t want to get involved in the electoral campaign in the US and also said that he said what he said on the basis of what he was told [about Trump], hence giving him the benefit of the doubt.”

So let’s go to Bill Donohue. Bill Donohue, the Catholic League, was on Special Report with Bret Baier last night at 6:00. And Bret Baier read the actual statement here. Although it was said, let’s read it out. It’s obviously in Italian. But here’s what it is. “Donald Trump in a recent interview said you, the pope, are a political man and maybe you’re a pawn of the Mexican government as far as immigration policy is concerned. He said that if elected, he would build a 25 kilometer-long wall along the border. I’d like to ask you –” this is a reporter asking the pope “– I’d like to ask you, what do you think of these accusations against you and if an American Catholic can vote for somebody like this.”

Pope Francis said, “Thank God he said I was a politician because Aristotle defined the human person as “animal politicus.” So at least I am a human person. As to whether I am a pawn, well, maybe, I don’t know. I’ll leave that up to your judgment and that of the people. … 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. … As far as what you said about whether I would advise to vote or not to vote, I’m not getting involved in that. I say this man is not Christian if he has said things like that. We must see if he said things in that way. In this, I give the benefit of the doubt.” That’s the transcription and then Bill Donohue weighed in.

DONOHUE: That’s exactly the way it should be. What I find striking, because the pope laid down conditions, didn’t he? He used the word “if.” He used the word “only.” But in fact what we have here is the reporter trying to say, “Well, should Catholics really vote for a person like this?” Now we’ve been told ad nauseam that Catholics should not listen to the pope about anything, that they’re going to exercise their independence. Now we’re supposed to line up single file. This was a setup on the pope. They misrepresented what Trump has said. And now the media are misrepresenting — except for what you did. You accurately reported what the pope said. A lot of people are not.

RUSH: There’s a point to this. The pope’s answer to that question was rather lengthy. It was detailed, and it did contain a bunch of ifs, and I’m not sure, I’ll have to rely on your judgment. And Donohue said that was a setup question. The guy set the pope up hoping for an answer so he could run around saying the pope doesn’t like Trump or whatever. And then take it to Trump and say Trump doesn’t like pope and have a back and forth going.

So Bret Baier said, “Well, look the Vatican has a giant wall that surrounds it. And many conservatives have a problem with some of the things the pope said beyond what you’re talking about here, because somebody says building a wall along the southern border, a person who thinks only about building a wall is not Christian, that’s going to be a problem for some conservatives, Mr. Donohue.”

DONOHUE: There’s nothing that either this pope or any other pope has ever said, nor will you find it in the Catholic catechism, anything where the Catholic church says a nation does not have a right to defend its own borders. The Catholic church is solidly in favor of that. What it is simply saying is this: That’s not the end of the conversation. If somebody comes into another country illegally can you deport them? Yes, but if that person has needs that must be tended to, you can’t act immorally and say, get out of here. You’ve got to take care of that person, treat them humanly. So I think what happens is a lot of people want to make it an either/or, and that’s where the misrepresentation takes place. I’m sympathetic, too. I don’t want people crashing through our borders, and I think those people are right.

RUSH: He’s obviously going to defend the pope and the Catholic church here. That’s what the mission of the Catholic League is. But the point of this is to illustrate that the question the pope was asked was a really long question and the pope’s answer was a really long answer, and the question wasn’t specifically about Trump except as somebody who might build a wall. It was theoretical here, theoretical there. And the pope did give himself plenty of outs. But the reporter got enough to be able to say: pope says Trump not Christian. Trump not knowing, none of us knowing from shinola what went on.

Oh, really? Pope says Trump not Christian? And Trump goes, that’s disgraceful, how do you say a private citizen — and it all got going. And when all this came out, everybody started backtracking. Marco Rubio, yesterday in Anderson, South Carolina, had a press conference and during the Q&A he had this to say about the battle between the pope and the Trumpster.

RUBIO: There’s no nation on earth that’s more compassionate on immigration than we are. We accept a million people a year in the United States, legally, every year. Mexico doesn’t do that. No other country in the world does that. But we’re a sovereign country and we have a right to control who comes in, when they come in and how they come in. Vatican City controls who comes in, when they come in, and how they come in, as a nation state or as a city state. And as a result the United States has the right to do that as well.

RUSH: Now, that was Rubio answering before all of the context had been presented and broadcast. But, nevertheless, he’s exactly right. This is why I blanch when I hear people say, “We’ve got to stop people dying in the streets.” Nobody’s dying in the streets here. We’ve spent more money and we’ve been more compassionate, no matter how you define it. Disaster relief, with taking immigrants in our country — illegal and legal — our foreign aid budget. It’s laughable to attack the United States as being a nation without compassion or selfish and greedy or what have you, and that’s what Rubio is responding to.

He’s right.

There’s no nation on earth that can hold a candle to us when it comes to immigration. We accept more immigrants in a year than most of the rest of the world combined. It really isn’t close. Mexico: 1,500 immigrants permitted a year. We have anywhere between a million and a million six. So it’s ended up with Trump saying he doesn’t like fighting with the pope. He didn’t double down, went nowhere near there, and it seems like it has leveled off and now become pretty much a nonissue.

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