Sen. Bernard Sanders used Pope Francis in a fundraising appeal Thursday for his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, telling supporters that he and the pontiff were both pursuing the same social justice agenda.
Mr. Sanders said the pope was “reaching out to people all over the world with an incredibly strong message of social justice, talking about the grotesque levels of wealth and income inequality.”
Mr. Sanders, a Vermont independent and avowed socialist, has become a force in his party’s nominating contest with a call for a “political revolution” to push America further left, including to fight climate change and poverty, which are efforts advocated by the pope.
The email, which included a link to a donation page on the Sanders campaign website, presented an excerpt from Pope Francis’ address to a joint session of Congress:
“If politics must truly be at the service of the human person, it follows that it cannot be a slave to the economy and finance. Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life. I do not underestimate the difficulty that this involves, but I encourage you in this effort.”
Mr. Sanders, who is Jewish and describes himself as not religious, acknowledged that he and the pope do not agree on issues such as abortion and gay marriage.
But he said they share a common vision.
“He is asking us to create a new society where the economy works for all, and not just the wealthy and the powerful,” the senator said. “He is asking us to be the kind of people whose happiness and well-being comes from serving others and being part of a human community, not spending our lives accumulating more and more wealth and power while oppressing others. He is saying that as a planet and as a people, we have got to do better.”
The senator pointed to the pope’s reference in his speech to Dorothy Day, a social justice activists who founded the Catholic Worker newspaper, and the pope’s call to follow her example fighting hunger and poverty.
“Dorothy Day fought this fight, and as Pope Francis says, we must continue it. We need to move toward an economy which works for all, and not just the few,” Mr. Sanders said. “We have so much poverty in a land of plenty. Together, we can work to make our country more fair for everybody.”
“I am glad that you are with me in this fight,” he said.
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