Catholic Republicans' Support for Trump Increased Since Pope's Comments

Donald Trump
Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, April 13, 2016. |

Roman Catholics within the Republican Party apparently are unconcerned about Donald Trump's recent spat with Pope Francis.

According to a recently released poll from Reuters/Ipsos, since February the Republican frontrunner's favorability among Catholics within the GOP has increased.

"Trump has averaged support among 47.9 percent of Catholic Republicans in the 50 days since the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics made the comment on Feb. 18, up from 39.8 percent in the 50 days that preceded it," reported Reuters.

Pope Francis
Pope Francis waves as he arrives to lead his weekly general audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican March 30, 2016. |

"The Reuters/Ipsos poll of 1,117 church-going Catholic Republicans had a credibility interval of 4.8 percentage points."

In February, Pope Francis garnered headlines when he strongly implied that Donald Trump was not a Christian due to his support for building a wall on the border with Mexico.

"A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian," stated the head of the Roman Catholic Church.

"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."

Trump immediately responded while at a campaign rally in South Carolina, denouncing the pontiff's words and arguing that no one can claim that he is not a Christian.

"For a religious leader to question a person's faith is disgraceful. I'm proud to be a Christian and as president I will not allow Christianity to be consistently attacked and weakened unlike what is happening now with our current president," stated Trump.

"No leader, especially a religious leader should have the right to question another man's religion or faith, especially when they feed all sorts of false information into it."

Trump went on to claim that the Mexican government was "using the pope as a pawn and they should be ashamed of themselves."

Some conservative groups like The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, have argued that the media representation of the issue is a "contrived controversy."

"The Pope was asked to comment on something that is not Trump's position," said Catholic League President Bill Donohue to the "The Steve Malzberg Show" in an interview in February. "The reporter actually had the audacity to say can a Catholic vote for a man like this after misrepresenting what Trump said."

The Reuters/Ipsos poll comes around the time Trump won the New York Primary with a commanding lead over U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich.

Trump's showing earned him an additional 89 delegates while second place Gov. Kasich garnered 4 delegates.

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