Washington: Hours after calling Pope Francis' explosive remarks against him "disgraceful", Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump in a damage-control move appeared to have mellowed down his outburst saying he does not "like fighting with Pope".

Donald Trump. Pic/AFP
Donald Trump. Pic/AFP

The pontiff in a criticism of the controversial real-estate tycoon had said Trump cannot claim to be a Christian and slammed his comments on immigration in particular building a wall along the US-Mexico border.

Trump (69), in a swift reaction, had fired back at the Pope calling Francis' remarks "disgraceful" but later softened his stand on the Catholic leader. "I don't like fighting with the Pope, actually. I don't think this is a fight. I think he said something much softer than was originally reported by the media. I think that he heard one side of the story, which is probably by the Mexican government," Trump said.

But earlier in the day he had called Pope's comment "disgraceful." "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," Trump had said.

Pope's comment had come in an interaction with reporters travelling on his plane on his way back to Vatican from Mexico where he visited this week. "A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian," Pope Francis had said.