In a political season already chock-full of strange moments, another one took place last week when Bernie Sanders bailed out on the Empire State campaign trail to jet across the ocean to Rome. He was off to see the Pope, or so we were told. But before Bernie had even touched down near Vatican City I saw conflicting reports that His Holiness didn’t have the Vermont Senator on his schedule. Then the meeting was back on again, but reduced to a quick bit of face time in passing. In the end, Sanders did get to meet with Pope Francis, if only briefly as he was leaving for Greece, and some of his supporters seemed to be taking that as a major sign of broad religious appeal. (Not for nothing, but Sanders is Jewish.)
So what does that mean in terms of the American election? Did Sanders snag one of the biggest endorsements on (or far above) Earth? Don’t get your hopes up. The Pope is saying that if you believe that you should probably get your head examined. (Time)
Pope Francis said his brief encounter Saturday with U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was a sign of good manners, “nothing more,” and hardly evidence of interfering in American politics.
The White House hopeful called it a “real honor” to meet “one of the extraordinary figures” in the world, a kindred spirit on economic inequality, which is a main Sanders’ campaign theme…
“When I came down, I greeted them, shook their hands and nothing more. This is good manners. It’s called good manners and not getting mixed up in politics. If anyone thinks that greeting someone means getting involved in politics, they should see a psychiatrist,” the pope said.
It wouldn’t be surprising if Sanders was hoping that a little of that Pope Francis magic could rub off on him, particularly if voters were left with the impression that he had received the Papal seal of approval. His Holiness is already well known for performing miracles (such as the young girl who rose from her wheelchair and walked again after receiving his blessing) but I seriously doubt he’s interested in resurrecting Bernie’s campaign chances against Hillary Clinton.
This is one of the major problems with the media diving into every word and action of the Pope. We always have to dilute everything and anything with politics, and accusations of the Holy Father trying to inject himself into our elections are apparently fair game. It seems to me that Pope Francis simply keeps on going and doing what he does. He is invited to travel all over the world and speak to people. When he was offered a chance to come to Washington and address the American people he came. He hits every continent except Antarctica. (And if the penguins asked nicely enough he’d probably go there.) He comes. He speaks. He prays for us and asks us, in turn, to pray for him.
And when Bernie Sanders and his wife show up on the scene, he shakes hands, exchanges a pleasant smile and bestows his blessings. Do we really need to read any more into it than that? I’m not saying the Pope is perfect and he wouldn’t tell you that himself. But come on, man… he’s still the Pope.