Pope Francis and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) apparently had a brief, five-minute meeting early on Saturday morning. Sanders described the meeting as a "highlight" of his trip to Rome.
"Today certainly was the highlight of the trip," Sanders told NBC News of his 6 a.m. (midnight ET) meeting with the pontiff outside the papal residence's breakfast room.
He called the pope "one of the great leaders in this world."
There had been considerable doubt that the Bishop of Rome would be available to meet with Sanders due to his busy schedule.
On the papal plane, Pope Francis described the meeting as one of "good manners," and denied that he was getting involved in American politics.
.@pontifex on Sanders meeting: "A greeting is good manners and not about meddling in politics. Whoever thinks it is needs a psychiatrist."— Edward Pentin (@EdwardPentin) April 16, 2016
Asked about a reported meeting on Saturday morning in the Vatican with the American presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, Pope Francis acknowledged it had taken place but specified that it had been a purely ‘polite’ encounter.
“This morning when I was leaving Senator Sanders was there. He had come to participate in the ‘Centesimus Annus’ Conference and greeted me politely together with his wife (…) It is called ‘manners’ and has nothing to do with politics” he said.