The Latest: Sanders expands on campaign message at Vatican

AP News
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Posted: Apr 15, 2016 12:33 PM
The Latest: Sanders expands on campaign message at Vatican

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders' trip to Rome to speak the Vatican conference on social and economic justice (all times Eastern Daylight Time):

12:10 p.m.

Bernie Sanders is being peppered with questions from academics and ecclesiastics at the Vatican, giving the Democratic presidential hopeful a chance to expand on core campaign messages about the need to reform banking regulations, campaign finance rules and higher education.

After his initial speech Friday, Sanders was treated as something of the eminence grise of the United States, answering the questions of conference participants from around the globe.

Host Bishop Marcello Sanchez Sorondo kicked off the questioning, drawing out Sanders on his praise of Pope Francis and their shared condemnation of income inequality.

Sanders said: "We don't choose to politicize the pope ... But his spirit and courage and the fact, if I may say so here, that his words have gone way, way, way beyond the Catholic Church."

The Jewish candidate called the situation of public education in America "beyond disgraceful" and denounced campaign finance regulations that allow the wealthy to buy their way into office.

He said: "Is that really democracy? My view it is not. It's a move toward oligarchy."

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11:20 a.m.

Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders delivered his speech on social and economic inequality sitting next to the other main guest of honor at the Vatican: Bolivian President Evo Morales, whose is renowned for his anti-imperialist, socialist rhetoric.

Sanders arrived about 20 minutes late for his speech Friday and launched right into it as soon as he took his seat on the dias next to Morales, an Aymara Indian who came to power championing Bolivia's 36 indigenous groups.

Earlier in the day, Morales met with Pope Francis and gave him an eyebrow raising gift: three books on the health benefits of coca leaf, the raw material of cocaine that is chewed throughout the Andes as a mild stimulant and an antidote to altitude sickness.

Sanders' received a warm round of applause after his speech on the "Urgency of a Moral Economy." In addition to Morales, participants at the conference included academics, priests, bishops, as well as Francis' closest adviser, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga and the Ecuadoran president, Rafael Correa.

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11:00 a.m.

Following his address to a gathering of priests, bishops, academics and two South American presidents, Sanders walked through Vatican City's Perugino gate and greeted about two dozen supporters, some of whom carried signs bearing Sanders' name.

The Vermont senator told reporters Friday that he was honored to address the conference and admired Francis' message on the economy and the environment, noting that the pope's vision "has turned many people around about the urgency of the moment in terms of dealing with climate change."

"I know that it's taking me away from the campaign trail for a day but when I received this information it was so moving to me that it was something that I could just simply not refuse to attend," Sanders said.

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10:05 a.m.

Pope Francis has apologized that he couldn't personally greet participants of a Vatican conference where Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders spoke.

Bishop Marcello Sanchez Sorondo read aloud the hand-written note of apology from the pope right before Sanders took the floor Friday.

In it, Francis said he had hoped to swing by the conference, located in a villa deep in the Vatican gardens, later Friday evening. But he said couldn't pull it off because he was busy preparing for his upcoming trip to Greece on Saturday.

Francis asked Sanchez to "greet the speakers and participants, requesting their understanding of this situation. I will keep them all in my prayers and good wishes, and send them my heartfelt thanks for their participation."

In the run-up to his brief Vatican visit, Sanders had said he would welcome a meeting with Francis. The Vatican, however, said Thursday that no such meeting was planned.

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10:50 a.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is telling a Vatican conference that young people today are no longer satisfied with an economy "of stark inequality and injustice" and want instead an economy that looks out for the common good.

Speaking Friday at the Vatican, Sanders said today's youth — in the United States and elsewhere — are looking for a "return to fairness" and an economy that ensures everyone has access to health care, nutrition and education.

He said: "Our youth are no longer satisfied with corrupt and broken politics and an economy of stark inequality and injustice."

Sanders was speaking at a Vatican conference commemorating the 25th anniversary of St. John Paul II's 1991 encyclical "Centesimus Annus" on the economy and social justice at the end of the Cold War.

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10:35 a.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is issuing a global call to address "immoral and unsustainable" wealth inequality and poverty in a Vatican address that embraces the teachings of Pope Francis.

Sanders cited Francis and St. John Paul II repeatedly during his speech Friday to the Vatican conference commemorating the 25th anniversary of a landmark teaching document from John Paul on social and economic justice after the Cold War.

Sanders told the audience of priests, bishops, academics and two South American presidents that instead of a world economy that looks out for the common good, "we have been left with an economy operated for the top 1 percent, who get richer and richer as the working class, the young and the poor fall further and further behind."

Echoing some of his main campaign messages, Sanders said "billionaires and banks have reaped the returns of their campaign investments, in the form of special tax privileges, imbalanced trade agreements that favor investors over workers, and that even give multinational companies extra-judicial power over governments that are trying to regulate them."

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10:05 a.m.

One of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders' foreign policy advisers is telling a Vatican conference that U.S. corporate greed and corruption have contributed to repeated financial, social and environmental crises.

Jeffrey Sachs, economist and head of the U.N.'s sustainable development network, told the Vatican conference that it's time to "end the impunity of the rich and powerful."

Sanders is expected to address the conference later Friday.

The conference is commemorating the 25th anniversary of St. John Paul II's 1991 encyclical "Centesimus Annus" on the economy and social justice at the end of the Cold War.

Sachs, who was Poland's lead economic adviser at the time and worked on the document, said it had aimed to support the market economic system being in adopted in Eastern Europe but "with the clear admonition to embed the market system in a moral system based on the universal destination of goods."

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9:05 a.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has landed in Rome to attend a Vatican conference steeped in his lifelong passions of economic and social justice.

The Vermont senator is making the trip even while he faces a crucial New York primary against rival Hillary Clinton next week.

The self-described democratic socialist is an admirer of Pope Francis and will join several speakers commemorating the 25th anniversary of "Centesimus Annus," a high-level teaching document by Pope John Paul II on the economy and social justice at the end of the Cold War.

The roughly 24-hour break from the campaign comes just five days before the New York primary.

Sanders is joined by his wife, Jane Sanders, and 10 family members, including four grandchildren.

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8:50 a.m.

Pope Francis has met with at least one participant of the Vatican conference on social and economic justice that Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is attending: Bolivian President Evo Morales.

Morales met for about a half-hour Friday morning with Francis before heading into the conference. Morales once again raised eyebrows with an unusual gift for the pontiff: three books about the health benefits of the coca leaf, the raw ingredient for cocaine.

The Vatican has said Francis has no plans to meet with conference participants or with Sanders.

He has a longstanding friendship with Morales, however, and visited him in Bolivia last summer. Morales sparked a minor diplomatic incident during the visit when he gave the pope a crucifix fashioned as a communist-style hammer and sickle. Francis said he wasn't offended.

Coca leaf is widely chewed in the Andes to fight against altitude sickness and as a mild stimulant.

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3:00 a.m.

The Vatican conference drawing Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders away from the campaign for New York delegates is steeped in his lifelong passions of economic and social justice and reflects his admiration for Pope Francis.

Sanders departed New York for Rome after Thursday night's debate with front-running rival Hillary Clinton. The self-described democratic socialist will join several speakers commemorating a high-level teaching document by Pope John Paul II on the economy and social justice at the end of the Cold War.

The Vermont senator is joined by his wife, Jane, and 10 family members, including four grandchildren. His spokesman said Sanders was still working on a draft of his speech on the plane.

The roughly 24-hour break from the campaign comes just five days before the New York primary.