“I am delighted to have been invited by the Vatican to a meeting on restoring social justice and environmental sustainability to the world economy,” Sanders said in the release.“Pope Francis has made clear that we must overcome ‘the globalization of indifference’ in order to reduce economic inequalities, stop financial corruption and protect the natural environment. That is our challenge in the United States and in the world.”In an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Friday morning, Sanders praised the pope when he was asked about the invitation.
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.
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.”
It was not clear why Archer’s account differed from Sánchez Sorondo’s letter, and requests for comment to her office were not returned.