Sanders says his invitation to Vatican wasn't political endorsement

By Carol Glatz

CITY (CNS) — U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said attending a
Vatican conference on Catholic social teaching did not represent a political
endorsement of his run for higher office.

asked about the controversy surrounding the invitation during a presidential
campaign cycle and whether that translated into the Vatican somehow supporting
his bid, he told the Italian daily La Repubblica, “No, that’s not it. The
Vatican isn’t involved in that. The conference isn’t a political

was one of about 35 economists, academics, church leaders and politicians
invited to attend a conference April 15-16 dedicated to St. John Paul II’s 1991
social encyclical “Centesimus Annus.” The meeting was jointly
sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences and the Institute for
Advanced Catholic Studies. Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa and Bolivian
President Evo Morales were also invited to speak at the two-day conference.

told La Repubblica in an interview published April 15 that he was a huge fan of
Pope Francis, “even if I have opinions different from his on certain
issues.” He said he believes the pope is “a charismatic figure who is
helping public opinion become aware of the inequalities in income and wealth
that we are seeing in the world.”

pope wants to fix the social injustices in society and I am completely with him
on that,” he told the Italian paper. Senator Sanders’ talk, titled
“The Urgency of a Moral Economy: Reflections on the 25th Anniversary of
Centesimus Annus,” was to focus on a just distribution of the world’s
resources, inequality in health care and climate change, he said.

K. Finn, professor of economics and theology at St. John’s University in Collegeville,
Minnesota, said in his opening address that the conference was meant to ask where
the church needs to “go from here” as it promotes its teachings and
actively engages in the world.

academy’s role includes listening to top specialists to gain insights that
“can help both church leaders and ordinary Catholics better understand
what is happening around them,” he said in the program’s introduction,
jointly written with Margaret Archer, a British sociologist and president of
the academy.

observation and analysis as well as “a generous listening to the
multiplicity of ‘grass-roots’ groups and movements around the globe is critical
for an adequate grasp of social reality today,” the introduction said.

Naughton of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, told Catholic
News Service April 15 that the broad tradition of Catholic social teaching
still needs to penetrate people’s daily activities so its principles are
translated into action.

“specific dimensions” of everyday life include “the
intellectual, philosophical, economic, political and cultural” worlds, he
said, “and then you need practitioners who are doing these things on the

academy, therefore, “is obviously taking the teachings and engaging it in
the thought and the practice because what do you have here, you have academics
and you have presidents,” he said.

asked about the implications of the church engaging with politicians and the
controversies that that often triggers, Naughton said, “the church always
has to be careful of becoming co-opted by either economic or political forces.
It is largely a cultural institution, it’s providing a guide to these political
and economic realities.”

church “has to be in the world but not of the world, as they say, but
whenever you are in the world, you might sometimes get too close to the world
and then you might be used by it” or co-opted by the money, he said.

have to be careful,” he said, and have an open discussion about where the
line should be drawn, he said.

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