After the pope's criticism of Donald Trump's immigration policies last week, a priest at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth said Francis has taught the message of building bridges - not walls - all along.
“We are not a people to set up barriers between one another,” Pastor James Wilcox – a Dallas native – said. “We are called to love one another. It’s difficult to be able to do that and build a wall between people.
The priest said the pope’s immigration comments were meant to be taken as a social – not political – statement.
"The Holy Father is never going to say, 'Vote for this candidate and not this candidate," Wilcox said. "It's just not going to be that way. What he's helping us to do is to develop well-formed consciences so that we can go out and make the best decision in society by voting but also by how we live our lives.”
Wilcox’s response came shortly after Donald Trump won by double digits in the South Carolina primary last weekend.
A CNN exit poll of the primary showed Trump battling with Senator Ted Cruz for young voters ages 17 – 29.
According to the poll, Cruz narrowly slipped past Trump for the vote, beating him by two percentage points. They tied for voters ages 30 – 44.
Wilcox did not mention the pope’s immigration critique during his homily in front of about 50 TCU students last Sunday.
However, outside of Robert Carr Chapel after mass, sophomore Hannah Taylor said she was comforted by the pope’s opinions on immigration.
“It was very reassuring to me as a Catholic citizen that the pope would also agree with me on those types of things,” Taylor said.
Chris Sandoval – another sophomore – said he was not surprised about the pope’s comments.
“He has such a love and service for others,” the San Antonio native said. “It just creates an interesting divide between politics and religion.
Senior Brad Horn said he struggles with this divide.
“From a moral standpoint, that’s where I am,” Horn said. “But from a political standpoint, it’s hard not to be aligned with Trump in saying there is a problem with these immigrants. I don’t think we should go to the extreme Trump is proposing.
“What I'm hoping for is that we can come to a compromise. Hopefully, some legitimate politician can come in and just get their wing on it.”
The Republicans now focus on today's GOP caucus in Nevada before heading into Super Tuesday on March 1. Texas early voting concludes this Friday, Feb. 26.