Republican front runner Donald Trump has praised Pope Francis for "doing a great job" in a backtrack, hours after calling describing the Pontiff as 'disgraceful'.
During a visit to Mexico, Pope Francis had responded to Mr Trump's proposal for a wall along the US-Mexican border by saying: "A person who thinks only about building walls...and not of building bridges, is not Christian."
On the campaign trail in South Carolina, Mr Trump's initially had responded angrily to the Pope's comment, saying: "For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful.
"I am 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.
"No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man’s religion or faith."
Later in the day at a televised town hall meeting in Greenville, South Carolina, Mr Trump made a more considered statement: "I have a lot of respect for the Pope. He has a lot of personality and I think he's doing a very good job, he has a lot of energy."
However, he did reiterate his belief the Pope had been ignorant of the drugs being smuggled into the US and other security issues before criticising his border wall proposal.
Donald Trump's most controversial quotes
Donald Trump's most controversial quotes
1/14 On Isis:
"Some of the candidates, they went in and didn’t know the air conditioner didn’t work and sweated like dogs, and they didn’t know the room was too big because they didn’t have anybody there. How are they going to beat ISIS?"
2/14 On immigration:
"I will build a great wall — and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me —and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words."
3/14 On Free Trade:
"Free trade is terrible. Free trade can be wonderful if you have smart people. But we have stupid people."
PAUL J. RICHARDS | AFP | Getty Images
4/14 On Mexicans:
"When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists."
5/14 On China:
"I just sold an apartment for $15 million to somebody from China. Am I supposed to dislike them?... I love China. The biggest bank in the world is from China. You know where their United States headquarters is located? In this building, in Trump Tower."
6/14 On work:
"If you're interested in 'balancing' work and pleasure, stop trying to balance them. Instead make your work more pleasurable."
7/14 On success:
"What separates the winners from the losers is how a person reacts to each new twist of fate."
8/14 On life:
"Everything in life is luck."
9/14 On ambition:
"You have to think anyway, so why not think big?"
10/14 On his opponents:
"Bush is totally in favour of Common Core. I don't see how he can possibly get the nomination. He's weak on immigration. He's in favour of Common Core. How the hell can you vote for this guy? You just can't do it."
11/14 On Obamacare:
"You have to be hit by a tractor, literally, a tractor, to use it, because the deductibles are so high. It's virtually useless. And remember the $5 billion web site?... I have so many web sites, I have them all over the place. I hire people, they do a web site. It costs me $3."
12/14 On Barack Obama:
"Obama is going to be out playing golf. He might be on one of my courses. I would invite him. I have the best courses in the world. I have one right next to the White House."
13/14 On himself:
"Love him or hate him, Trump is a man who is certain about what he wants and sets out to get it, no holds barred. Women find his power almost as much of a turn-on as his money."
14/14 On America:
"The American Dream is dead. But if I get elected president I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before and we will make America great again."
Catholics currently make up nine per cent of the South Carolina electorate, of which a third are made up of Hispanic Catholics, RNS reports.
The Republican South Carolina Primary takes place on Saturday 20 February.Reuse content