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Bernie Sanders - Witness Interview

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016 - Independent politician Bernie Sanders was born on September 8, 1941, in Brooklyn, New York. He grew up as the youngest of two sons of Jewish immigrants from Poland. His father worked as a paint salesman. As part of a struggling working class family, Sanders recognized early on America's economic disparity. Sanders became involved in the civil rights movement during his time at university and served as an organizer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. After finishing college in 1964, Sanders lived on a kibbutz in Israel before settling in Vermont. He worked a number of jobs, including filmmaker and freelance writer.

In 1981, he was elected as mayor of Burlington, the state’s largest city, by a mere 10 votes. Under his administration, the city made major strides in affordable housing, progressive taxation, environmental protection, childcare, women’s rights, youth programs and the arts.

In 2006, Bernie was elected to the U.S. Senate after 16 years as Vermont’s sole congressman in the House of Representatives. Bernie is now serving his second term in the U.S. Senate after winning re-election in 2012 with 71 percent of the vote. In Congress, Bernie has fought tirelessly for working families, focusing on the shrinking middle class and growing gap between the rich and everyone else.

Senator Bernie Sanders is America's longest-serving independent politician in Congress and a candidate for president of the United States in 2016. Bernie lives in Burlington, Vermont with his wife Jane, a Roman Catholic. They have four children and seven grandchildren.

Statement concerning Salt and Light’s WITNESS Interview with Senator Bernie Sanders

Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB, in his role as CEO of the Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation and Executive Producer and Host of the WITNESS Program, interviewed Senator Bernie Sanders in his offices on Capitol Hill on September 21, 2015 on the eve of Pope Francis’ arrival in the United States. The interview also contains scenes and excerpts of Senator Sanders addressing the US Senate, as well as Pope Francis speaking at the White House, St. Matthew’s Cathedral and during the Special Session of Congress later that historic week in September.

The views expressed by Senator Sanders in this exclusive WITNESS Interview are his own and do not reflect the views of Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation nor its related Television Network. Salt and Light does not endorse Senator Sanders or any other Democrat, Republican or Independent US presidential candidate. We are aware that certain views held by Senator Sanders oppose the moral teachings of the Catholic Church. As a Catholic media foundation, Salt and Light does not share these views, denounces his positions as such, but recognizes the Senator’s right to hold them. We recognize that respectful and charitable dialogue, especially with those who fundamentally disagree with certain or all aspects of the Church’s teachings, is the appropriate Christian approach in dealing with complex social and political issues. This is the approach Pope Francis clearly articulated on the occasion of his meeting with the Bishops of the United States of America in St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, D.C. on September 23, 2015, where he said:

“The path ahead is dialogue among yourselves, dialogue in your presbyterates, dialogue with lay persons, dialogue with families, dialogue with society. I cannot ever tire of encouraging you to dialogue fearlessly. The richer the heritage which you are called to share with parrhesia, the more eloquent should be the humility with which you should offer it. Do not be afraid to set out on that “exodus” which is necessary for all authentic dialogue. Otherwise, we fail to understand the thinking of others, or to realize deep down that the brother or sister we wish to reach and redeem, with the power and the closeness of love, counts more than their positions, distant as they may be from what we hold as true and certain. Harsh and divisive language does not befit the tongue of a pastor, it has no place in his heart; although it may momentarily seem to win the day, only the enduring allure of goodness and love remains truly convincing.”

Pope Francis has continuously advocated this approach, especially in the context of the Jubilee of Mercy currently being celebrated throughout the Church and the world. In his 2016 Message for the 50th World Communications Day he wrote:

“Communication has the power to build bridges, to enable encounter and inclusion, and thus to enrich society. How beautiful it is when people select their words and actions with care, in the effort to avoid misunderstandings, to heal wounded memories and to build peace and harmony. Words can build bridges between individuals and within families, social groups and peoples. This is possible both in the material world and the digital world. Our words and actions should be such as to help us all escape the vicious circles of condemnation and vengeance which continue to ensnare individuals and nations, encouraging expressions of hatred. The words of Christians ought to be a constant encouragement to communion and, even in those cases where they must firmly condemn evil, they should never try to rupture relationships and communication.”

Salt and Light Catholic Television Network extends an open invitation to all other US presidential candidates of all parties for an interview to discuss their views relating to the Catholic Church and the teachings of Pope Francis.