US Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has denounced the “immoral and unsustainable” wealth inequality of the world during an economy and social justice conference at the Vatican.
“I’m so excited and proud to be here with other people who are trying to create a moral economy,” Sanders told supporters outside the Vatican on Friday.
The Vermont Senator arrived in Rome hours after confronting Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton at a debate in New York Thursday night.
He said the invitation to the Vatican conference was too meaningful to pass up. “I know it’s taken me away from the campaign trail for a day. But when I received this invitation, it was so moving to me that it was something that I could just simply not refuse to attend.”
Addressing an audience of priests, bishops, academics and two South American presidents, Sanders called for global action to direct “our efforts and vision to the common good.”
“We have been left with an economy operated for the top 1 percent, who get richer and richer as the working class, the young and the poor fall further and further behind,” he stated.
“We have to ingrain moral principles into our economy that serve more than those who are at the top,” he said.
While meeting with Pope Francis was not on the schedule for this round-trip visit to the Vatican, Sanders said he and the pope shared the same view on the issue of inequality.
The pope has apologized that he could not personally greet the participants of the conference.
It remains to be seen whether attending the Vatican conference with a theme that Sanders has built his entire White House run around will have much impact on his campaign back home.
There is a large population of Catholic Democrats in New York, where voters cast their ballots in the state’s crucial primary on Tuesday.
Sanders’ emphasis on issues such as wealth inequality, universal healthcare, and campaign finance reform, has drawn significant attention to his campaign.