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Pope invites Bernie Sanders to the Vatican

Friday, April 8, 2016 10:01
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(Before It's News)

Updated, 11:18 a.m. | Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has accepted an invitation from the Vatican to attend a conference on social, economic and environmental issues.

The Sanders campaign made the announcement on Friday as the senator made the rounds of the morning television news programs. Mr. Sanders will take a break from campaigning in New York, just days ahead of the April 19 primary there, to attend the conference hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. Mr. Sanders, clarifying what he said earlier about a sit-down with Pope Francis, said he had not confirmed yet whether the two men would actually meet.

“I am delighted to have been invited by the Vatican to a meeting on restoring social justice and environmental sustainability to the world economy,” Mr. Sanders said in a statement. “Pope Francis has made clear that we must overcome ‘the globalization of indifference’ in order to reduce economic inequalities, stop financial corruption and protect the natural environment. That is our challenge in the United States and in the world.”

In an interview with The Times on Friday, Mr. Sanders stressed that Pope Francis has played a “profound role in raising consciousness throughout the world, not just within the Catholic community but within all communities.”

“To me, this a source of real pride and excitement that I have been invited to speak to a major conference at the Vatican on how we can create a world economy that is moral and how we address the massive levels of wealth and income inequality that exist around the world, how we deal with unemployment, how we deal with poverty and how we create an economy that works for all people rather than the few,” Mr. Sanders said.

On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program, Mr. Sanders explained that while he disagrees with Pope Francis on issues relating to women’s rights and gay rights, he admires the pope for speaking about income inequality and the need for people to help one another.

“He has played an unbelievable role, an unbelievable role of injecting a moral consequence into the economy,” said Mr. Sanders, who would become the first Jewish president in the United States if elected. “He is talking about the idolatry of money, the worship of money, the greed that’s out there, how our whole culture is based on: ‘I need more and more and more. And, I don’t have to worry about veterans sleeping out on the street or elderly people who can’t afford their prescriptions.’”

Mr. Sanders also addressed the back and forth between him and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton during interviews on morning television. He said he is “trying to stay away from personal attacks” and hopes to stop bickering about their credentials to be president.

Mr. Sanders also appeared at a town-hall-style event on NBC’s “Today” show and took questions from voters about his stances on gun manufactures’ liability, breaking up commercial banks and how he would protect women’s rights.

The “Today” anchor Savannah Guthrie asked Mr. Sanders about his latest spat over qualifications with Mrs. Clinton.

“Did you overreact because you thought she said something more than she did?” Ms. Guthrie asked.

“Here’s the truth,” Mr. Sanders said. “I’ve known Hillary Clinton for 25 years. I respect Hillary Clinton. We were colleagues in the Senate, and on her worst day, she would be an infinitely better president than either of the Republican candidates.”

Ms. Guthrie asked, “She’s qualified?”

“Of course,” Mr. Sanders said. “But the point is I would hope we get away from these attacks, which by the way, the media likes very much, and start focusing — maybe we can do that today — on the real issues.”

Echoing his earlier comments, Mr. Sanders also said in his interview with The Times that he wanted to move past the squabbling with Mrs. Clinton but said he would also continue to fight back if he felt attacked again.

“My hope right now is that Secretary Clinton will stop the levels of negativity,” Mr. Sanders said. “I want to run an issue-orientated campaign.”

The senator said he planned to host a series of rallies throughout New York, which he called an important state to win.

Mr. Sanders also appeared on ABC’s “The View” later in the day.

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