Bernie Sanders Will Visit The Vatican In The Middle Of His Campaign: ‘I’m A Big, Big Fan Of The Pope’

Bernie Sanders will visit the Vatican on April 15, reports CNN. Sanders was invited by Pope Francis “to attend a conference hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences ‘on social, economic, and environmental issues.'”

The momentous visit will come just four days before the New York Democratic Primary on April 19, which promises to be a close race between Sanders and Democratic Party rival Hillary Clinton. Bernie is aiming to beat Clinton in the New York race, which is an important state to both candidates. The Vermont senator was born and raised in Brooklyn, and Clinton was a New York senator from 2001 to 2009.

Sen. Bernie Sanders [Photo by Matt Rourke/AP Images]

Bernie Sanders will visit the Vatican 25 years after the release of the Pope John Paul II’s letter “Centesimus Annus,” which is an “encyclical from Pope John Paul II that addresses workers’ rights and other economic and social issues that are similar to those Sanders has stressed in his White House bid.” In a statement released from Sanders’ campaign office, the presidential hopeful spoke eagerly of his excitement at the invitation.

“‘I am delighted to have been invited by the Vatican to a meeting on restoring social justice and environmental sustainability to the world economy.'”

The Vatican’s invitation comes just after Pope Francis released a controversial letter saying the Catholic church should “be more accepting of gay men and lesbians, divorced Catholics.” The pope is widely regarded as one of the most progressive Catholic leaders of recent times. Sanders says he is a “big, big fan of the pope.”

Pope Francis [Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images]

Bernie Sanders will visit the Vatican to speak at a “meeting on restoring social justice and environmental sustainability to the world economy,” notes USA Today.

“‘Pope Francis has made clear that we must overcome “the globalization of indifference” in order to reduce economic inequalities, stop financial corruption and protect the natural environment. That is our challenge in the United States and in the world.'”

Speaking on Morning Joe on MSNBC, Sanders said that “he [Pope Francis] is what he is…people think Bernie Sanders is radical..? Read what the Pope is writing.”

“We have to pay attention to what he calls the ‘dispossessed’…we don’t talk about it enough, these are the children who have no jobs…the elderly people who are watching this program right now trying to get by on $11,000 a year, we don’t talk about that.”

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Bernie Sanders will visit the Vatican after the Democratic New York debate, reports CBS News. Sanders’ spokesman Michael Briggs said Sanders will “be in New York in the days leading up to the primary before this short trip and the days afterward.” Bernie leaves for the Vatican on the night of April 14.

Although Bernie Sanders will visit the Vatican, it is unclear whether or not he will meet Pope Francis himself. Sanders, who will be the first Jewish president of the United States if he wins, says he shares many of his core values with the pontiff.

“‘He’s talking about the idolatry of money – the worship of money, the greed that’s out there, how our whole culture is based on ‘I need more and more and more’…I worry about veterans sleeping out on the street or elderly people who can’t afford their prescription drugs and he’s trying to inject the sense of morality into how we do economics.'”

Bernie Sanders will visit the Vatican in the middle of his campaign for the Democratic nomination. Do you think his timing is off, or is this a fantastic opportunity to showcase his international diplomacy? Should Sanders be more concerned with what is going on at home than speaking at a Catholic church conference? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

[Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images]