Income Inequality ‘Great Moral Issue’ of Our Time, Bernie Sanders Says Addressing Vatican
Finance| | By Jason Owen
Presidential hopeful, Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.- I), began a whirlwind trip to Italy with a message to the Vatican on economic fairness and the rise of income inequality.
On Friday, Sanders spoke to a Vatican conference on the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s “encyclical ‘Centesimus Annus,’ which focused on wealth and standards of living after the collapse of the Soviet Union,” NBC News reported. One of the cornerstones of Sanders’ populist movement has been to address the astronomical gap in income distribution in the U.S. and many parts of the world.
“The issue of wealth and income inequality is the great economic issue of our time, the great political issue of our time, and the great moral issue of our time,” Sanders told the conference NBC News reported. “It is an issue that we must confront in my nation and across the world.”
Sanders’ trip was first announced last week when it was revealed he would be speaking in front of the conference. There was some initial controversy as to whether the invitation was real, but sources soon confirmed Sanders had indeed been invited. Though he is in Rome now for the next 24 hours, the Vatican confirmed that Sanders would not be meeting with Pope Francis.
“There won’t be a meeting with the Holy Father,” said Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, The Hill reported.
Lombardi clarified to The Hill that Sanders was not invited by the Pope himself, but by the “pontifical academy of social sciences.”
Despite not meeting with Pope Francis, Sanders maintained his delight in being able to make the trip.
“I am just so excited to be here, so proud to be here, with other like-minded people who are trying to do our best to create a moral economy,” Sanders told reporters outside the Vatican, according to NBC.
Whether the invite is a tacit endorsement of the Sanders campaign will likely not be made clear, but the Vermont senator has consistently praised the high pontiff, who has often spoken of the moral impact of economic inequality around the world.
“I was very moved by the invitation. I am a big, big fan of the pope,” Sanders said in an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe last week, The Hill reported.
“People think Bernie Sanders is radical. Read what the pope is writing,” Sanders said.