Behind the Reporting of Pope Francis’s Comments on Donald Trump

By Chris Ariens 

PullellaVaticanUnlike his predecessor, Pope Francis is not shy about meeting with Vatican reporters, especially after his apostolic journeys to other countries. So, on his flight to Rome overnight following his 5-day trip to Mexico, the pontiff took some questions from the media. But his answers were embargoed until several hours after the flight landed, until noon ET.

That’s when longtime Reuters Vatican reporter Philip Pullella (right, in an image from Twitter from earlier this week) began firing off tweets about Francis’s comments, beginning with this one about Donald Trump.

It was Pullella who asked Francis about Trump and some of his statements, including wanting to build a wall between the United States and Mexico. “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” the Pope said. “This is not in the gospel.”

The comments spread biblically fast on Twitter and reached Trump on the campaign trail on Kiawah Island, S.C. “I just got a call, as I’m walking up here,” Trump said right at noon ET. “They said, ‘Mr. Trump, the Pope made a statement about you.’ I said, the Pope? What did the Pope say? I like the Pope.'”

He then read from his prepared statement: “If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which is ISIS’s ultimate goal, I can promise you that the Pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president.’ That had some wondering whether Trump had been tipped off to the Pope’s comments:

Other reporters on the plane, including ABC’s Terry Moran and NBC’s Anne Thompson quickly published their stories and tweeted the news. Thompson also gave credit to Pullella whose question certainly generated the 2016 campaign’s moment of the day — but it’s still early.