Environmental and social justice will be the topics at an upcoming meeting at the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, and one US presidential hopeful has been invited to speak: Senator Bernie Sanders. The visit could be an important moment for the Senator to convey his ideas about the environment and the economy on a global scale.
In a statement, Sanders said “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 conference will explore social, economic, and environmental justice. The Academy was founded by Pope John Paul II over 20 years ago to further studies in politics, the economy, and social sciences, and offer counsel to the Catholic Church on doctrine.
It appears Sanders’ discussion will center on the economy. He said, “To me, this is a source of real pride and excitement that I have been invited to speak at a major conference at the Vatican on how we can create a world economy that is moral and how we can address the massive levels of wealth and income inequality that exist around the world, how we deal with unemployment, how we deal with poverty, and how we create an economy that works for all people rather than the few.”
Some questioned the validity of Sanders’ invitation after Margaret Archer, the president of the Academy said Sanders had actually requested the invite. However, Chancellor of the Academy Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, said the invitation had been extended because he felt “it would be good to have an authoritative voice from North America.” He told Reuters he wanted to invite Sanders and said of Archer’s comments, “This is not true and she knows it. I invited him with her consensus.”
Sanders said he does not yet know if he will get to speak personally with Pope Francis. He has said in the past that they agree on many issues such as inequality, and he appreciates the Pope’s willingness to speak out on social justice issues. Sanders will reportedly speak at the event on April 15, just four days before the New York state primary. If elected, Sanders would be the first Jewish US President.