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It’s starting to look like Bernie, who perhaps over spoke when saying the Pope invited him to speak at the Vatican, may have pursued the invitation and from the wrong person.

He could use a little Diane Wiest right now.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ plan to attend a Vatican-sponsored conference put him in the middle of a diplomatic row as a senior Vatican official accused the senator of showing “monumental discourtesy” in angling for an invitation that puts a political cast on the gathering.


Archer, an English social scientist appointed the head the pontifical academy in 2014, said that while she “quite liked” Sanders’ program on paper, his failure to contact her first is a breach of protocol. “The president of the academy organizing this event has not been contacted with monumental discourtesy,” she said, referring to herself.


Sanders “made the first move two or three days ago,” Archer said. She did not know whom he or his representatives contacted. “His use of it is clearly a pretext,” she said. “There are just 20 academics and there will be nothing of policy relevance.”

However Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, the chancellor of the Academy, speaking on the phone from New York, said he extended the invitation to Sanders, though he repeatedly declined to say who initiated the contact.


A copy of the invitation to Sanders provided by the chancellor’s office is dated March 30 and signed by Sanchez Sorondo. The letter says he’s inviting the senator “on behalf of” Archer and the conference organizers. An announcement about Sanders’s participation, also under Sanchez Sorondo’s name, was released early Friday.


Sanders, who’s made economic disparities the centerpiece of his campaign, earlier on Friday said, “this is an invitation from the Vatican, from a pope that I have enormous respect for in term of the level of consciousness that he’s raising on the need to have morality in our economy.”

But the office of the pope moved quickly to distance the pontiff from the visit. Father Federico Lombardi, the Pope’s spokesman, said Sanders had been invited “not by the pope but by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.” Lombardi told the Italian news agency Ansa: “For the moment there is no expectation that there will also be a meeting with the pope.”

Illustration for article titled Oops.

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