Sen. Bernie Sanders is at the Vatican today, delivering a speech at a conference hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. Accompanying Bernie Sanders were his family, including his wife, Jane, all four of their children, and his four grandchildren. A transcript of his speech is available here, along with a video of a news conference he did with reporters just before his speech.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Sanders Told Reporters He Was So Moved by the Vatican’s Invitation, He Had to Attend
Before speaking at the Vatican, Sanders stopped to talk to reporters about the invitation and how honored he was to be there.
“I know it’s taken me away from the campaign trail… When I received this invitation, it was so moving to me it was something I could not refuse.”
You can watch a replay of Sanders’ speech to reporters at C-SPAN here, if the video above doesn’t work.
During his speech to reporters before the Vatican conference, Sanders also talked about the devastating effects of climate change.
“(Climate change is) already causing devastating problems all over this planet,” he said. “Whether the fossil fuel industry likes it or not, we’ve got to transform our energy…away from fossil fuel.”
“We can’t allow the market just to do what the market does,” he explained. “That’s not acceptable. We’ve got to ingrain moral principles into our economy… We cannot continue to go forward when so few have so much, and greed is such a destructive force.”
2. Sanders Spoke Out Against Greed and Called for a Moral Economy
A big part of Sanders’ speech was speaking out against greed and calling for a moral economy. He cited Pope Leo XIII’s spech over a century ago, where he warned about the enormous wealth of the few as opposed to the poverty of the many. Sanders continued:
And let us be clear. That situation is worse today. In the year 2016, the top one percent of the people on this planet own more wealth than the bottom 99 percent, while the wealthiest 60 people – 60 people – own more than the bottom half – 3 1/2 billion people. At a time when so few have so much, and so many have so little, we must reject the foundations of this contemporary economy as immoral and unsustainable.”
The warnings that Pope John Paul gave about the excesses of “untrammeled finance” were prescient for today, he added. Unregulated globalization, a world economy that’s built on speculation, no longer protect the common good.
3. You Can Read a Full Transcript of His Speech Here
Bernie Sanders has already released a full transcript of his speech to the Vatican. The transcript is available on his campaign website. You can read it here.
4. ‘Our Very Soul as a Nation Has Suffered,’ He Said
Sanders warned that what’s happening in our economy is hurting the soul of the United States.
But as both Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis have warned us and the world, the consequences have been even direr than the disastrous effects of financial bubbles and falling living standards of working-class families. Our very soul as a nation has suffered as the public lost faith in political and social institutions.
5. Sanders Is a Big Supporter of Pope Francis
Sanders has said on numerous occasions that he has great respect for Pope Francis. He has even said that if people think that he is revolutionary, Pope Francis is far more so. Throughout his speech today, Sanders quoted the Pope and agreed with many of the Pope’s statements about the danger of economic greed.
“…He (Pope Francis) called upon financial executives and political leaders to pursue financial reform that is informed by ethical considerations,” Sanders said. “He stated plainly and powerfully that the role of wealth and resources in a moral economy must be that of servant, not master.”
Sanders praised the Pope in his speech.
“Some might feel that it is hopeless to fight the economic juggernaut… I am told time and time again by the rich and powerful, and the mainstream media that represent them, that we should be ‘practical,’ that we should accept the status quo; that a truly moral economy is beyond our reach. Yet Pope Francis himself is surely the world’s greatest demonstration against such a surrender to despair and cynicism. He has opened the eyes of the world once again to the claims of mercy, justice and the possibilities of a better world. He is inspiring the world to find a new global consensus for our common home.”