What the hell is going on here? You tell me!
Bernie Sanders announced proudly on Friday that the Vatican had invited him to speak at an upcoming conference in Vatican City, and he seemed to imply that the invitation had been issued by Pope Francis himself.
The Vermont senator's presidential campaign emailed reporters on Friday morning to announce that he had been invited to the event, a conference on "social, economic and environmental issues." The conference, organized by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, will be held on April 15 — just days before the crucial New York primary, in which Sanders is hoping to upset his rival Hillary Clinton in her home state.
The conference also includes two controversial leftist Latin American presidents, Rafael Correa of Ecuador and Evo Morales of Bolivia, as well as Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs.
Sanders appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” shortly after the announcement, clearly relishing in the reflected glow of one of the most admired men in the world, and someone with whom he shares a good deal of ideological overlap.Sanders also appeared on The View this morning where this exchange occurred:
Joy Behar: "You're meeting with the Pope?"
Bernie Sanders: "Yep."
Behar: "Pope Francis has invited Bernie to visit him in the Vatican!" (big applause)
Sanders nods in agreement.Video here:
This exchange alone is a huge embarrassment, as Sanders was either incredibly confused or wasn't telling the truth on a very popular show on national television:
But the invitation was actually made by Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, the chancellor of the pontifical academy, an autonomous institution that receives some funding from the Holy See but is not officially part of it.Yikes.
In a March 30 letter inviting Sanders to the event, Sánchez Sorondo wrote, "On behalf of the President, Professor Margaret Archer, the Organizers, and as Chancellor, I am very happy to invite you to attend the meeting on 'Centesimus Annus: 25 Years Later.' The meeting, which is humanitarian in its objects, will be held at the Casina Pio IV, the headquarters of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, from 15 to 16 April 2016."
But Archer, an English academic, appears not to have known about the invitation. On Friday, she accused Sanders of “monumental discourtesy” for not contacting her, telling Bloomberg that he was the one who had made the first move regarding the meeting — and “for obvious reasons.”
“I think in a sense he may be going for the Catholic vote, but this is not the Catholic vote and he should remember that and act accordingly — not that he will,” Archer said. Sanders' use of the meeting is "clearly a pretext," she added. "There are just 20 academics and there will be nothing of policy relevance.”
And it sure sounds like this wasn't just an invitation out of the blue:Pope Francis did NOT invite Bernie Sanders to speak at Vatican conference. Low level, Bishop Sorondo did. #bigmistake— Fr. Jonathan Morris (@fatherjonathan) April 8, 2016
The Sanders campaign referred POLITICO to Michael Shank, a media consultant who works with Sachs and said he "occasionally" handles press relations for Vatican conferences.
Reports that Sanders had said that Pope Francis himself had invited him were incorrect, Shank said, but he argued that the invitation had effectively come from the Vatican. "The PASS is part of the Vatican. So the senator is right when he says the Vatican invited him," he said.
Adding to the confusion, Sachs said that he had helped the Vatican arrange the invitation to Sanders.Also:
Sanders also clarified to The New York Times that it hadn't been confirmed whether there would be a one-on-one sit-down meeting with the pontiff himself.
It's just so damn weird. Is Bernie really going to do this?