San Diego's Bishop Robert McElroy hit out at Donald Trump's visit to the Mexican border earlier this week, where the president displayed several prototypes for his controversial border wall.
Trump presented his wall models during a visit to southern California on Tuesday, his first trip to the Democrat-leaning state as president. He reiterated his commitment to the wall, championed its superiority to current border measures, and called on Congress to provide $18 billion to fund the structure.
'If you don't have a wall system, we're not going to have a country,' Trump said standing in front of the 30ft mock-ups, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
McElroy said in a statement, in reaction to Trump's visit: 'It is a sad day for our country when we trade the majestic, hope-filled symbolism of the Statue of Liberty for an ineffective and grotesque wall which both displays and inflames the ethnic and cultural divisions that have long been the underside of our national history.'
He added: 'Our faith is in the God who is the Father of us all, and who urges us to see Jesus himself in the immigrants and refugees who seek safety and freedom.'
McElroy's condemnation stands alongside widespread antagonism to the wall project from US Catholic leaders and from Pope Francis too. The pontiff, whose politics have frequently clashed with the president, famously said: 'A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.'