As the Pope’s visit grips Washington, Sen. Bernie Sanders says he finds a lot that resonates in the Pontiff’s message – and he’s not surprised it’s irking his Republican colleagues.
The Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont independent told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on “New Day” on Wednesday that a lot of what the Pope is espousing aligns with his own campaign ideals.
“He is saying that as a planet, as a people, we have got to do better,” Sanders said in an interview on the White House lawn. “That accumulation of money, that worship of money, is not what life should be about, that we cannot turn our backs on our fellow human beings.”
READ: Pope Francis’ remarks at the White House
Sanders cited the Pope’s message on social justice, extreme inequality and the “dispossessed” members of society like the elderly and the poor.
He also said he’s “not surprised” there’s been a fair amount of pushback against some of the Pope’s messaging from conservatives, as, he said, the Catholic leader is speaking truth to people who don’t want to hear it.
“He has a very, very progressive agenda,” Sanders said. “He is looking in the eyes of the wealthiest people in this country … and he is saying, ‘You know what? You cannot continue to ignore the needs of the poor, you cannot continue to ignore the needs of the sick.’ And he is also saying trickle-down economic theory … really doesn’t work. That government itself is obliged to protect those who are vulnerable, and that is a message, I have to be honest, that my Republican colleagues do not want to hear.”
Sanders, who is Jewish and on Wednesday was observing the important Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, said he also appreciates that the Pope is speaking “very proudly and significantly about climate change,” sending a message that “God’s earth” must be protected.
The displeasure with that message from conservatives also doesn’t surprise Sanders.
“That’s the pushback from the Koch brothers, and Exxon Mobil and the fossil fuel industry. But that’s his courage,” Sanders said. “That’s what I admire about him, his audacity and his courage.”
The Pope will be in Washington Wednesday and Thursday. On Wednesday he meets with the President, and Thursday he’ll give an address before Congress before continuing on to New York and Philadelphia in his first United States visit.