U.S. Candidate Sanders Speaks at Vatican Conference on Social Teaching, Meets Pope

Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., a U.S. presidential candidate, first row at right, speaks at a conference on Catholic social teaching at the Vatican April 15. The conference was dedicated to St. John Paul II's 1991 social encyclical "Centesimus Annus" and was sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences and the Institutute for Advanced Catholic Studies. At left in the first row is Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the academy, who invited Sanders. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) See VATICAN-ACADEMY-ECONOMICS-SANDERS April 15, 2016.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., a U.S. presidential candidate, first row at right, speaks at a conference on Catholic social teaching at the Vatican April 15 (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The meeting had no political significance, Francis later said

Attending an event hosted by a Vatican academy on April 15, U.S. presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) provided a long reflection on Catholic social teaching as he sees it.

Sanders spoke at a conference celebrating the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s landmark social encyclical Centesimus Annus (May 1, 1991). The Vermont senator commented: “With the fall of Communism, Pope John Paul II gave a clarion call for human freedom in its truest sense: freedom that defends the dignity of every person and that is always oriented towards the common good.”

The April 15-16 conference was sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, which fosters dialogue between scientists, politicians and various experts.

“There are few places in modern thought that rival the depth and insight of the Church’s moral teachings on the market economy,” Sanders said in remarks to the conference. He cited Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum (May 15, 1891) that described the challenges of “the enormous wealth of a few opposed to the poverty of the many.”

“We are now 25 years after the fall of Communist rule in Eastern Europe. Yet we have to acknowledge that Pope John Paul’s warnings about the excesses of untrammeled finance were deeply prescient.”

He repeatedly cited Pope Francis. “Man is not in charge today, money is in charge, money rules,” he said, citing the Pope’s words against the world’s “new idols.”

“Our challenge is mostly a moral one,” he said, “to redirect our efforts and vision to the common good.”

Sanders applauded parts of Church teaching, but some of his beliefs are at odds with Catholic belief, including strong support for abortion and the “LGBT” political cause.

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