Election 2016

Sanders Has Been Summoned to the Vatican: Is the Pope Feeling the Bern? (Video)

While they have their disagreements, Sanders said Pope Francis "has played an unbelievable role of injecting a moral consequence into the economy."

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Is Bernie Sanders on the verge of his biggest endorsement yet? The Democratic presidential candidate announced his plans to travel to the Vatican to meet with Pope Francis on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" today. 

“You would be the first Jewish president. How did this come about?" asked host Mika Brzezinski.

"It was an invitation from the Vatican,” Sanders replied. "I was very moved by the invitation. I am a big, big fan of the Pope. Obviously there are areas that we disagree on—women's rights, gay rights—but he has played an unbelievable role of injecting a moral consequence into the economy."

Sanders explained that Pope Francis urges people to pay attention to "the disposessed, the idolatry of money, the worship of money, the greed that's out there and inject a sense of morality into how we do economics."

The Vermont senator will be traveling to the Vatican to discuss "plans to create a moral economy that works for all people, rather than the top 1%," the invitation read.

Pope Francis was last profiled in the election cycle in February due to his remarks about Donald Trump, made while visiting Mexico. "A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian," the Pope said.

Following their feud, Sanders told Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation that the current Pope is, in fact, a socialist, which may explain his disdain for Trump.

"What it means to be a socialist is that we have to live our lives in a way that alleviates human suffering and when he talks about wealth being used to serve people, not as an end in itself, he does not believe in trickle-down economic theory," Sanders told the foundation.

“[Pope Francis] is reaching out not just to the Catholic Church, he is reaching out to people all over the world with an incredibly strong message of social justice,” Sanders told CNN’s Chris Cuomo last September when the Pope visited the U.S.

Being the first Jewish president has never been an overt part of the Sanders campaign. In fact, Sanders only mentions his Jewish background when discussing current prejudices expressed by Republican candidates and governors banning Muslims or suggesting plans to do so.

Sanders' father, Elias Sanders, immigrated to the United States at the age of 17 and many of Elias' relatives who remained in Poland were killed in the Holocaust, a fact that is connected to Sanders' condemnation of Trump's xenophobic policies. It is "in my heart to see what a lunatic can do by stirring up racial hatred," Sanders said

But as it turns out, the Pope was not always so popular with Democratic voters. During the 1960 election there was an anti-Catholic feeling in America, so much so that John F. Kennedy actually battled a smear campaign in which anti-Catholic material was distributed to voters in Wisconsin—which actually ended up working in his favor. 

Bernie Sanders is very excited about visiting the Pope and discussing his progressive agenda. "People [who] think Bernie Sanders is radical [should] read what the Pope is writing," Sanders told MSNBC.

Alexandra Rosenmann is an AlterNet associate editor. Follow her @alexpreditor.