16 April 2016
Christopher Lamb in Rome
Bernie Sanders meets the Pope, and anyone who thinks it was political 'should see a psychiatrist'
Democratic nominee and pontiff greeted as they passed each other at the Casa Santa Marta where they were both staying
Pope Francis has said his brief meeting this morning with Bernie Sanders was not a political statement and anyone who thinks otherwise needs to see a psychiatrist.
During his in-flight press conference from Lesbos to Rome, the Pope said he simply greeted the Democratic presidential candidate who was staying in the Casa Santa Marta, the guest house and residence where Francis lives.
"This morning, when I left, Senator Sanders was there. He knew that I would go at that hour and had the kindness to greet me,” the Pope said. "If someone thinks that saying hello is to get mixed into politics, I recommend they see a psychiatrist."
Sanders had arrived in the Vatican on Friday to attend a conference on the moral economy organised by the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences. His trip had caused consternation in the Vatican as it could have been read as a papal endorsement for a political candidate. The independent senator had been invited by Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, the chancellor of the academy but in doing so he had not consulted the president, Professor Margaret Archer.
Jeffrey Sachs, an economist and environmentalist who helped organise the conference, told reporters today that Sanders thanked the Pope for his encyclical on ecology, “Laudato’ Si”. Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, and Bishop Sánchez Sorondo were also present when Sanders greeted Francis.
The 73-year-old Jewish senator spoke briefly at the conference which was held to mark 25 years since Pope John Paul II’s Catholic Social Teaching encyclical “Centesimus Annus.” His remarks consisted of an annotated speech of one given by Pope Francis.
Following the event Sanders said that the Pope was giving "visionary views about creating a moral economy, an economy that works for all people not just the people on top.”
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