Sen. Bernie Sanders drew parallels between himself and Pope Francis on Friday during a high-profile trip to the Vatican.
During a speech there Friday, the Democratic presidential candidate attempted to tie his economic populist message to the pope’s beliefs on greed and the power of global financial institutions.
“Pope Francis himself is surely the world’s greatest demonstration against such a surrender to despair and cynicism,” Sanders said, according to prepared remarks released by his campaign.
“He has opened the eyes of the world once again to the claims of mercy, justice and the possibilities of a better world. He is inspiring the world to find a new global consensus for our common home,” Sanders added.
Speaking before a delegation of Catholic officials and several left-leaning world leaders, Sanders praised the pope’s mission to curb the effects of climate change.
“As Pope Francis made powerfully clear last year … we have the technology and know-how to solve our problems — from poverty to climate change to health care to protection of biodiversity,” Sanders said. “We also have the vast wealth to do so, especially if the rich pay their way in fair taxes rather than hiding their funds in the world’s tax and secrecy havens.”
In his prepared remarks, the Democratic presidential candidate was not only effusive in his praise of the pope. Sanders directly quoted both the pope’s recent treatise on income inequality and Pope Leo XIII’s dire warnings about the heavy consolidation of wealth among a small ruling class.
Although he was invited specifically to speak before the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, there was some friction between the campaign and some papal officials about the senator’s trip. Vatican officials quickly shot down news reports that Sanders would meet with the pope, complaining that the campaign was mischaracterizing the nature of the senator’s visit.