Global Independent Analytics

Sanders' Vatican invitation sparks accusation of `discourtesy'

The expected trip quickly spurred an international dust-up amid confusion about how he got invited and whether he would meet Pope Francis

Yamiche Alcindor and Alan Rappeport for The New York Times report: Mr. Sanders, a Democratic presidential candidate, said he would take a break from campaigning in New York, just days before the April 19 primary there, to attend a conference hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. Mr. Sanders did not initially correct interviewers who suggested that he would meet with the pope, but he later clarified that he had not confirmed whether the two men would actually meet.

Further confusion followed after the Vatican press office issued a statement that clearly indicated that although the invitation did come from the academy, it definitely did not contain a direct invitation to a meeting with Francis. Meanwhile, the academy’s president, Margaret Archer, told that Sanders has been trying to obtain the said invitation for political purposes. “Sanders made the first move, for the obvious reasons,” Ms. Archer said. “I think in a sense he may be going for the Catholic vote, but this is not the Catholic vote, and he should remember that and act accordingly — not that he will.”

But, few hours later Monsignor Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, a senior papal official and the academy’s chancellor clarified the controversy saying that he was responsible for inviting Sen. Sanders to the event. However, Hillary Clinton’s campaigners did not fail to make use of the incident, with her spokesperson joyfully re-posting the whole situation on Twitter.

Alcindor and Rappeport continue: “Mr. Sanders tried to move beyond the controversy and stressed his fondness for the pope and the importance of his visit. In an interview on Friday, he said Pope Francis had 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.”

Mr. Sanders attempted to reach a compromise with both the Pope and Clinton. First, he announced that the Pope, in spite of their disagreement regarding women’s rights and gay rights, “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.'”

As regards his rival he admitted that he did not express any doubts on whether she was qualified to be a President and added: “Here’s the truth, 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.”

 

By Stefan Paraber for GIA.

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