Bernie Sanders, who traveled to Italy with his wife Jane and 10 family members, was mobbed by media following his searing speech at the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences on Friday. (Photo: Reuters)
At the Vatican on Friday, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders railed against everything from environmental destruction and the weakening of the rights of workers to widespread financial criminality on Wall Street and unregulated globalization.
"Rather than an economy aimed at the common good, we have been left with an economy operated for the top 1 percent, who get richer and richer as the working class, the young and the poor fall further and further behind," the senator from Vermont declared in a speech that theGuardiandescribedas "one of the most powerful indictments of modern capitalism of his campaign."
In advance of the visit, theAssociated Pressnotedthat the trip "reflects [Sanders'] admiration forPope Francis" and indeed, the AP reported laterthat Sanders "cited Pope Francis and St. John Paul II repeatedly during his speech."
Some might feel that it is hopeless to fight the economic juggernaut, that once the market economy escaped the boundaries of morality it would be impossible to bring the economy back under the dictates of morality and the common good. I am told time and time again by the rich and powerful, and the mainstream media that represent them, that we should be “practical,” that we should accept the status quo; that a truly moral economy is beyond our reach. Yet Pope Francis himself is surely the world’s greatest demonstration against such a surrender to despair and cynicism. 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 delivered his remarks at the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, at an academic conference which also hosted Bolivian president Evo Morales and Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa. The conference marked the 25th anniversary conference onCentesimus Annus, an important encyclical released by Pope John Paul II that expounded on the economy and social issues after the Cold War.
The chancellor for the pontifical academy, Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, has said he invited Sanders, who is Jewish, because he was the only U.S. presidential candidate who showed deep interest in the teachings of Francis.