…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. ;-)