Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, who would be the first Jewish U.S. president if elected, announced on April 8 he would be heading to the Vatican on the 15th, one day after a debate with Hillary Clinton in Brooklyn, and four days before the important New York primary.
On an interview with Morning Joe on April 8, Sanders said “I’m a big, big fan of the Pope.” and, although he disagrees with some positions, such as woman’s rights and gay rights, the Democratic candidate sees common ground with Pope Francis on issues such as social justice and economic inequality:
“He has played an unbelievable role, an unbelievable role of injecting a moral consequence into the economy,” said the Sanders.
“He’s 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 prescription drugs.'”
In a statement, Sanders further praised Pope Francis and embraced the invitation:
“I am delighted to have been invited by the Vatican to a meeting on restoring social justice and environmental sustainability to the world economy.”
“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.”
The timing of the visit to the Vatican is surprising because it means that Sanders will be taking a break from the campaign trail before a crucial primary in New York on April 19.
Sanders is looking to upset Clinton in New York, which the Clinton campaign has characterized as a “must win” state for him.