Pope Francis’ words and actions have had a profound impact on countless people of various backgrounds, interests, and beliefs. In the interviews for my upcoming documentary, The Francis Impact, I’ve heard some beautiful and concrete testimonies of this. So I created #TFIMOMENTS, a web series to share some of these profound and personal moments of connection with the pope.
When Pope Francis visited the United States in September of 2015, US Senator Bernie Sanders
was just beginning to mount what he called “a political revolution.” Months later, he became an unlikely challenger to Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic nomination in the 2016 US Presidential election. Many who followed that election still believe Sanders would have fared better against Donald Trump than did Mrs. Clinton.
Senator Sanders is known for his strong liberal—even socialist—views, some of which do not align with the Catholic Church
. But since Francis’ election to the papacy in 2013, Sanders has applauded the pope
for his public criticism of the current global economic system, in which a few people are exceedingly wealthy while millions are excluded and the Earth and its resources are exploited.
Particularly interesting in this #TFImoment with Senator Sanders is his acknowledgment that Pope Francis’ critique of global capitalism is “more radical” than his own and goes “much deeper” than the political platform he operates on.
This is because Francis’ critique is not primarily political, or even economic. It cuts deeper to the source, namely, the ancient human inclination to idolize money. The economic crisis we are experiencing, of wealth disparity and economic exclusion, has its roots in a profound human crisis, Francis says (Evangelii Gaudium 55
Our #TFImoment with Senator Sanders is a testament to the fact that non-Catholics—even those opposed to some of the Church’s teachings—have been inspired by Pope Francis and perhaps, at times, comprehend his message at a deeper level than many Catholics.
From the time of Jesus, who never shied away from those who were “different,” the Church’s authentic tradition of promoting dialogue and reconciliation with various peoples has become a central theme of Francis’ papacy...and many non-Catholics, like Senator Sanders, are willing to shake his outstretched hand.
I should inform our readers that Salt + Light extended a personal invitation to all of the candidates running in the 2016 US presidential election to discuss Pope Francis’ general impact. Only Senator Sanders granted us an interview.
For more information about The Francis Impact visit the official webpage.