Pope Francis briefly meeting the democratic U.S. Presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, at the Vatican Saturday is picking political overtones, while the Pope himself maintains the encounter was apolitical. He suggested psychiatric counseling for those thinking otherwise, the USA Today reported.
Bernie Sanders and the Pope met briefly on Saturday at the Vatican guesthouse, where Sanders and his wife spent the night following his address at the Vatican conference on social justice.
The Pope took a brief trip to Greece on Saturday to visit a refugee camp, reportedly spoke to reporters on the plane home about his meeting with Bernie Sanders. Reuters quoted Pope Francis saying, “When I came down, I greeted him, I shook his hand and nothing more. This is called good manners and it is not getting involved in politics.” The Pope said laughing, “If anyone thinks that greeting someone is getting involved in politics, I recommend that he look for a psychiatrist.”
Bernie’s opponents, especially Republican contender Donald Trump, took a jab at the Bernie-Pope meeting during a campaign event in New York Saturday, saying the event was more a glitzy affair and a wasted effort. He even questioned Bernie’s decision to leave the New York campaigns at such a critical juncture.
Reportedly, the impromptu meeting between Bernie and the Pope could be construed as close to a papal endorsement as any presidential candidate could hope for. Officially, Sanders was invited to take part in the academic conference for a body that advises Pope Francis.
Bernie is contesting Hillary Clinton for the presidential nomination and the meeting with Pope Francis comes days before Tuesday’s crucial New York primary, a state with a considerable population of Catholic voters. Reportedly, Hillary holds a 250 lead over Sanders in the primaries and the senator is trying to clinch a string of victories in forthcoming contests to reach closer to the nomination.
According a report in the Inquisitr, “Trump acknowledged that Sanders’ meeting with Pope Francis might earn the Democratic candidate some additional support from Catholic voters, particularly in the forthcoming New York primary on April 19.”
Pope Francis’ opposition with a Donald Trump type of politics is palpable. Earlier, he had aired his differences over the Mexican migrant issue. According to the Washington Post, the Pope ridiculed Trump, saying that anyone promoting the idea of fencing between the United States and Mexico is not a Christian.
Trump campaigns on the promise that he will force Mexico to build a fence to keep illegal immigrants from reaching the United States.
The Vatican, as a policy, avoids endorsing political campaigns, but Pope Francis has already deviated from the Vatican protocols many times, especially on issues affecting the poor, refugees, and migrants.
According to an op-ed in the Huffington Post,“Bernie Sanders and Pope Francis are fellow travelers, especially on the path of social and economic justice.” The post speaks of “some of the major themes that align the head of the Catholic Church most with those of the self-described Democratic Socialist.”
[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]