04.10.16The Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told The Daily Beast that it wasn’t the pope who personally invited the politician. “The invitation was made on behalf of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, not by Pope Francis,” he said. “There is no expectation that the pope will meet Mr. Sanders.” He then added that he could not completely exclude the possibility, but that nothing was on the agenda at the moment.
Margaret Archer, president of Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, said that Sanders invited himself. “Sanders made the first move, for the obvious reasons,” Archer told Bloomberg. “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.”
Not long after, Monsignor Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences stepped in to dispute Archer’s statements. “"I deny that. It was not that way," Sorondo told Reuters “This is not true and she knows it. I invited him with her consensus.”
Sorondo later toned down his initial comments telling CNN the invitation should not be seen as an endorsement of the senator’s nomination. “It does not signify any support of the campaign," Sorondo said. "We want to establish a dialogue between North America and South America so we thought to invite a [U.S.] politician. The President of Bolivia will also be there. Perhaps the others (candidates) would have been interested but they did not request to come."
As the nuns used to say, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, Monsignor! Where have you been? Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spent good chunks of her tenure at the State Department re-establishing ties and friendships that the previous administration had allowed to deteriorate and falter, among them South American relations.
Here are Secretary Clinton's South American visits. I have left off the Central American visits because Msgr. Sanchez Sorondo specified South America, not, more broadly, Latin America. Also not included are the many summits, conferences, strategic partnerships, and visits that occurred in Washington DC.
Tour March 2010 Beginning here >>>>
Tour June 2010 Beginning here >>>>
This, January 1, 2011 >>>>
Tour April 2012 Beginning >>>>
Since he specifically referred to Rafael Correa, here is a reminder of how well Correa and Hillary hit it off in 2010.
The bottom line appears to be that Bernie Sanders actively sought this invitation, and Msgr. Sanchez Solondo overstepped his role and that of the conference which is not tasked with establishing diplomatic relations between nations. Bernie's primary opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, knows the South American leaders very well and has a great working relationship with them.
Certainly her campaign became aware of this conference at some point. That she did not request an invitation is evidence that 1) This visit relates to the election in only the most tangential way - the Catholic vote which, as Archer said, this is not; and 2) - and this is perhaps central - Hillary does not need foreign relations creds which the sly monsignor seemed to think this junket would afford Bernie.
No, monsignor, and no senator, a photo op of Bernie with Correa will never outdo this one.
And, yes, monsignor, you are messing around with our internal affairs. Imagine the reaction if it were Hillary accepting an invitation from the Patriarchy in Istanbul to discuss the refugee situation!
Finally, one speech during a short trip to Rome is not even a drop in the bucket compared to hundreds of addresses delivered all over the world by Secretary Clinton and this:
The motives are transparent with diminishing returns. It was not an invitation from Pope Francis or even, really, from the Vatican. Hillary is untrustworthy? Let him who is without sin etc. etc. etc.