Trump: Pope Francis 'a terrific person'
© Greg Nash
"I think he's a terrific person, frankly," Trump said of Francis during an interview with Fox News's Greta Van Susteren slated to air Friday night. 
"But to me it's illegal immigration," he continued. "I don't think the pope really understood, in terms of the crime problem and the problems of illegal immigration."
A Vatican official on Friday sought to clarify the pontiff's widely reported criticism Thursday of Trump's plan to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, arguing it wasn't a "personal attack."
Asked about Trump, Francis told reporters aboard his airplane on Thursday that "a person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not of building bridges, is not Christian."
Trump, who has identified as a Presbyterian, slammed the comment as "disgraceful" before tempering his remarks at a CNN town hall later in the day, saying the pontiff has "a lot of personality."
An official for Francis said Friday that the pope "has clearly said he didn’t want to get involved in the electoral campaign" and made his comments about what he was told about the candidate.
The real estate mogul suggested afterward that he appreciated the Vatican walking back the remarks, telling Fox News, "The fact that he said that, I'm very honored by it."
Trump is hoping to fend off GOP rivals Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet Cruz in 2016 said 'something fundamentally wrong' with Christians who back Trump: book Hillicon Valley: Twitter says Trump 'go back' tweet didn't violate rules | Unions back protests targeting Amazon 'Prime Day' | Mnuchin voices 'serious concerns' about Facebook crypto project | Congress mobilizes on cyber threats to electric grid MORE and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioLiberal think tank: GOP paid parental leave proposals are too narrow GOP senator: 'Outrageous' to say Trump's tweets about Democratic congresswomen are racist House passes bills to boost small business cybersecurity MORE for support among conservative voters in South Carolina on the eve of the state's primary Saturday.