Bernie Sanders Shouldn’t Have Accepted the Pope’s Invitation to Speak at the Vatican

…nor should the Pope have invited him.  Popes and other religious leaders have long weighed in on politics in general for good or ill, even advising Presidents and speaking before joint sessions of Congress (not that I endorse the latter, either), but should stay the hell out of electoral politics, no matter for which candidates.

.  Now if Sanders were the sitting President, I’d less of a problem with it, although strictly speaking I’m against any intersection of Church and State, especially in terms of funding or legislative policy.  Yes, this Pope does have some strong social politics akin to Liberation Theology, and good on him.  But this invitation obviously amounts to an endorsement of Sanders, and I don’t care for it one whit.  Poking around a bit to find the date of this event, I first found:

The Political Revolution Goes Global As Bernie Sanders Will Speak At The Vatican; The political revolution that Bernie Sanders is campaigning on is about to go international as the Democratic presidential candidate has accepted an invitation to speak at the Vatican on social, economic, and environmental issues’ (you can read Bernie’s comments about why he’s excited to go at the link.)

But did the Pope actually extend the invitation?  Well, it seems there is a bit of disagreement over that question.  Wondering how much of a political flap there ight be around it all, I found:  ‘Bernie Sanders invited by Vatican to speak at conference, sparking controversy’ at Fox Latino/poliitics

“Sanders said he would be giving a speech at the Vatican conference next Friday, April 15, and will return to the U.S. on Saturday. 

An hour or two later, Bloomberg News reported that Sanders had touched off a diplomatic row, with one Vatican official telling the business service that the Vermont senator had essentially invited himself to the conference, in the process showing “monumental discourtesy.”

Sanders made the first move, for the obvious reasons,” the president of the conference’s host, Margaret Archer of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, told Bloomberg. “I think in a sense he may be going for the Catholic vote, but this is not the Catholic vote, and he should remember that and act accordingly.”

A senior Vatican source, however, told Fox News that Monsignor Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, not Pope Francis, invited Sanders to the conference, but no one-on-one meeting between Sanders and the pope is foreseen at this time.

The source also told Fox News that the Vatican is eager to stay out of the U.S. presidential campaign, especially with many Catholics expressing unease on social media that the pro-choice Sanders will be speaking at the Vatican.”, and tra la la.

Now from the Bloomberg link:

Michael Briggs, a spokesman for Sanders, disputed Archer’s comments and said the characterization of the invitation is “categorically untrue. The invitation came to the senator from the Vatican.” His campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, said the trip wasn’t calculated to help the candidate’s appeal to Catholic voters in the New York primary.

Sanders’s travel to the Vatican, a day after a debate with Clinton and just before the primary, injects into the Democratic nominating contest the agenda of Pope Francis, one of the most popular world leaders whose papacy is especially admired by the political progressives who play an outsized role in Democratic primaries.” [snip]

“The office of the pope moved to distance the pontiff from the visit. Father Federico Lombardi, the Pope’s spokesman, said Sanders had been invited “not by the pope but by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.” Lombardi told the Italian news agency Ansa: “For the moment there is no expectation that there will also be a meeting with the pope.” 

A distinction with no appreciable political difference, I’d say.  But how to say this politely?  Somebody’s woofin’.  

I’d invite you to weigh in, but I’m sure you’ll feel free to.  ;-)

10 responses to “Bernie Sanders Shouldn’t Have Accepted the Pope’s Invitation to Speak at the Vatican

  1. With any other politician in other than an election season, this would not have been a news story. My reading is that it is about New York and Pennsylvania (and perhaps some other state) Catholics in the primaries. Not sure who contacted who first; finding that out for sure would be interesting. Sanders was put in a damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you-don’t position. Consider a headline that said “Jewish Socialist candidate for President disses Pope Francis”. You know there are media who would do that.

    As for not mixing church and state, of course you and Thomas Paine are correct. But once you step inside the current electoral bubble, you have to finesse the religious issue some way or another. Sanders has been pushing his heritage and others have pointed out that Sanders was raised in a community of between-the-wars Jewish socialists. He would have known them as has grandfathers’ generation. How thick they were in his part of Brooklyn in the 1940s and 1950s has not been reported, but his formative years were the Red Scare and McCarthy era. There were some religious roots to this and some ethnic roots to Russia in his neighborhood. Somehow he respects those who have religious motivations for authentic justice. But you are still correct on mixing church and state. As far as the Pope is concerned, he’s swimming upstream with his US bishops who are in the pocket of the Republican Party and anti-abortion movement. There is some heavy intra-church politics going on with this particular pope. Shades of John XXIII.

    • i didn’t know that it really was a ‘news story’ save for the triumphalist headlines, myownself. it just got under my skin, so i poked around, and didn’t poke further. i suppose the bloomberg piece could all be bullshit, but then…it wouldn’t be that hard for folks to contact archer and sorondo, but even bernie’s campaign manager said in the end: ‘it was the vatican who invited him’, iirc. i guess my money’d be on his campaign having gotten wind of the conference, and making a request for an invitation. didn’t one of those pieces say he’s not on the schedule to speak? well, he is now, i reckon, lol.

      but even if the vatican thought it was a brilliant idea an asked first, to me, the prudent thing to have done would have been for him to say: ‘as grateful as i am for the invitation, and as highly as i regard pope francis, it just wouldn’t be right for a presidential *candidate* to accept, lest it looked like electioneering’. (which it is). period.

      now francis has said a lot of cool things in his encyclicals, although i’ll stay away from his issues on abortion, lgbt, not doing anything about pedophilia and other sexual abuses by priests past pronouncing his good attentions, but… popes can’t be impeached, so i reckon i don’t give one fig for any figleaf the bern could provide him. ;-)

      on edit: you don’t think a vatican visit would have been newsworthy had it been clinton or cruz, though?

  2. Asking here, “Who does Bloomberg speak for?” And how heavy a hand is Michael Bloomberg himself exerting in this year’s election coverage? Bloomberg has a temporarily damped bit of lust for the Presidency himself. What are other outlets, not so wired into US politics and businesses saying and who are the sourcing?

  3. i sincerely love that you’ve looked at this from so many different angles, amigo but for me, it’s been a long day and i have my usual sat. night date with miz fisher and doctor blake on pbs. tomorrow, okay?

    and note to mr. wd: i really had meant to dust this sluttish house while you were out farming the place, except: blogging and other obligations. sorry, dear. ;-).

    g’ night, all. sweet dreams if you can.

  4. isn’t Sanders an atheist? We all know you gotta compromise to be POTUS, we all hear that 786 times a day, but just how many get outta jail free cards do you ge t as a g-d candidate? just come out & say you are an atheist, for Christ’s sake! say it loud & proud. he’s such milquetosty matzoh.

    I feel like Francis is kind of the Bill Clinton of the Pontiffs. “I want a kinder, gentler…” (i know that was ghw bush. still.) He sometimes says…something, and so what? I know, I know. w/the cardinals & etc., popes gotta do lots of compromisin’ too. did he denounce the rabid warmongering of Congress to their faces? or Obama?

    I’m w/Luther on the Roman Hierarchy. Whore of Babylon as far as i can tell.

    • ha. i hadn’t even known he’d spoken to congress until i’d gone searching for this post, or if i had…i’d forgotten. not into catlicks, not into religion, for that matter. ‘milquetoast matzoh’; hilarious. so no, i dunno what he said to the elected representatives of the Imperium; bet there’s a transcript, though. Or plenty of news coverage…

      dunno about his atheism. but i just put up some pretty fun news: Yats has resigned. dayum, i love these major fails of nato, the EU, and the west.

      can i blog-whore it, speaking of whores?

      • we (DC metro) got shut down for the papal pilgrimage to pucker up to the presidential pinky ring. he was fawning over Congress in his speech. land of the free, home of the brave, indeed.

        as long as they are not mormon, i don’t care. or faux socialist dembot sheepherders. sanders’ take on his own non-religiosity is kind of emblematic of his whole weasel show.

        i was weaned on biscuits & squirrel meat gravy in the chicken-fried south where suspicion of pontiff, sheriff & guvnah runs deep. Wonderful tracts like “Mystery Babylon,” about the catholic conspiracy to take over the world were dinner time discussion. How the Jesuits were behind everything, from the Lincoln assassination to Nixon’s ping pong diplomacy. i mean, everything. Not very well tho’t out, obvs. and nothing that a solid Kluxer couldn’t swallow, either.

        • popemobile, too? so he gave hommage to the US, then? what did he challenge? ah, for me, as a kid, i learned the hypocrisy of catholics only too well, by how they lauded themselves v. how they treated…their ‘lessers’, meh. a bit the same as the congregational church i sent myself to…so i could sing in their glorious choir. the director was fired, most of us quit.

          during a crisis in my life, i went to a couple local quker meetings: biggest gossips i ever heard. decades ago i went to mormon ‘indroductions’ (this is a mormon canyon where we live): their eschatology blew the fookin’ zoris off my feet (well, and then: racism). well, and so it goes. only semi-religious service mr. wd and i ever loved in the end was: sweat lodge. (can’t get in one no mo’) i did, however, get my universal life ministry card in case of needin’ it for marryin’ or buryin. never used it. ;-)

          on another thread, for another man, it’s the jews; for others: the free masons. my stars. my BiL: the muslims (loves that cruz fellah) my sister? ‘teh gays’ and ‘freeloaders’.

          • they shut the city down! people took off 2 or 3 days off work. it was ridiculous. it played into one of my hobbyhorses: political theater. we just had another big meaningless show: The Nuclear Summit. 98% +/- of the nuke material ain’t even up for discussion cuz of the Uncle Sam, so what was all this security, disruption, etc., etc., for? So VIP’s could yap and everyone else intone seriously: Something Important is Happening Here. snooooooooooze.

            • zo…what was up for discussion at the Big Summit? pakistan’s and roosia’s Loose Nukes? jayzus, sorry to ping so off-topic, but wasn’t that the huge rational for (was it clinton?) to tell benazir bhutto it was it was ‘safe to come home now’? ooopsie, not so much.

              aaaaand..meanwhile, O is spending how many billion to upgrade US nukes?

              on edit: crikey, it took me long enough to hunt this down on my mess o’ word docs, but oh, my: the irony (not):

              As Saudi and Allies Bombard Yemen US Clocks up $33 Billion Arms Sales in Eleven Months; by Felicity Arbuthnot / April 1st, 2016

              “…to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) according to Defense News.

              The GCC, a political and economic alliance of six Middle East countries, comprises of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman. It was established in the Saudi Capital, Riyadh, in May 1981.”

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