Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont met with Pope Francis on April 16 to discuss the "moral economy" and what can be done to decrease income inequality around the world.
The meeting, which took place in a Vatican guesthouse before the pontiff left for a ceremony on the Greek island of Lesbos, lasted about five minutes, and also included Sanders' wife, Jane, according to the Jerusalem Post. Columbia University Professor Jeffrey Sachs, who was present at the event, said that Sanders and the Pope spoke about mutual interests in the welfare of the poor, but that the Pope was not endorsing Sanders' political campaign.
"The pope thanked the senator for coming to the meeting and for coming to speak about the moral economy," Sachs said. "This was absolutely not political. This is a senator who for decades has been speaking about the moral economy."
According to Bloomberg, Sanders told the Pope that he was "very appreciative of the incredible role that he is playing in this planet in discussing issues about the need for an economy based on morality not on greed."
Prior to meeting with the pontiff, Sanders spoke at the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, in an event that marked the 25th anniversary of the social justice encyclical Centesimus Annus, which was promulgated by Pope John Paul II after the fall of communism in the early 1990s. At the event, Sanders said that the global economy was worse than it has ever been for the poorest of the poor.
“Twenty-five years after Centesimus Annus, speculation, illicit financial flows, environmental destruction and the weakening of the rights of workers is far more severe than it was a quarter century ago,” Sanders said, according to the Jerusalem Post. “Financial excesses, indeed widespread financial criminality on Wall Street, played a direct role in causing the world’s worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.”