(JTA) — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders accepted an invitation to visit the Vatican for a conference on social, economic and environmental issues, his campaign said.
“Pope Francis has made clear that we must overcome ‘the globalization of indifference’ in order to reduce economic inequalities, stop financial corruption and protect the natural environment. That is our challenge in the United States and in the world,” Sanders, who is Jewish, said in a statement Friday confirming his attendance at the April 15 event, Reuters reported.
Sanders’ announcement came as the pope called for a Church that was less strict and more compassionate towards “imperfect” Catholics.
The senator from Vermont is planning to head to Rome immediately after a high-profile debate scheduled with Hillary Clinton on April 14, the Washington Post reported. He’ll speak at the gathering hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Sanders said.
“I think the Vatican has been aware of the fact that, in many respects, the pope’s views and my views are very much related,” Sanders told the Post. “He has talked in an almost unprecedented way about the need to address income and wealth inequality, poverty and to combat the greed that we’re seeing all over this world, which is doing so much harm to so many people. … For me, it is an extraordinary honor to receive this invitation.”