Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has been a longtime fan of Pope Francis’ positions on social justice and income inequality, and now he says the pontiff is in fact a socialist — just like himself.
“(W)hat it means to be a socialist, in the sense of what the pope is talking about, what I’m talking about, is to say that we have got to do our best and live our lives in a way that alleviates human suffering, that does not accelerate the disparities of income and wealth,” Sanders tells the Rev. Thomas Rosica, head of the Toronto-based Catholic network Salt and Light in an interview to be broadcast Tuesday evening (Feb. 23).
Rosica, who also works as an English-language attache for the Vatican press office, had asked Sanders if he thought Francis was in fact a socialist, as many of the Argentine-born pope’s conservative critics in the U.S. have claimed. Sanders said yes.
“When (the pope) talks about wealth being used to serve people, not as an end in itself, I agree with that,” Sanders says.
The interview was taped last September on the eve of Francis’ closely watched visit to the U.S., his first ever, but Rosica told RNS that “the timing was right now” to run it. Salt and Light also issued a statement explaining that it was not endorsing Sanders or his views.
Sanders has endured through the early primaries this year as the only threat to Hillary Clinton, the other Democratic candidate, and the warm embrace of Francis by Sanders — a secular Jew — is an intriguing counterpoint to the recent spat between the pope and the leading Republican candidate, Donald Trump, a professed Presbyterian.
Francis has said Marxism is wrong, though he has many friends who are Marxists. And speaking to reporters flying with him from Cuba to Washington in September, he rejected the frequent criticism from the right that he is a communist or left-winger.
“I am certain I have never said anything more than what is in the social doctrine of the church,” Francis said. “I follow the church and in this I do not think I am wrong.
“Maybe I have given an impression of being a little bit to the left,” the pope conceded. “But if they want me to recite the creed, I can!”
SOURCE: David Gibson
Religion News Service