Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders is Jewish. He’s also the likely 2016 presidential candidate whose political philosophy lines up most closely with the economic and social theories of Pope Francis.
As he mused on the possibility of a 2016 campaign during an hour-long visit to TIME’s Washington Bureau Thursday, Sanders hit the Pope’s main talking points before even mentioning his name. Health care as a universal right for the elderly. The economic injustices of income inequality. Climate change.
Unlike many leaders who name-drop Pope Francis to score political points—he is, after all, likely the most popular man on the planet—Sanders quotes the Pope because he actually believes his message. When asked about casino capitalism, Sanders points to Pope Francis, who says that is not what human life should be. “He’s saying, you know what…the economy should serve people, not people serving the economy,” Sanders explains. “The market is the billionaire class who want to get richer, that is what it is. I don’t think we should have an economy serving their needs.”
Sanders adds: “The bottom line should be how well we are doing as human beings…The bottom line means that we should not have 20% of our kids living in poverty and elderly people in this country trying to get by on $12,000 a year.”
Sanders’ social media accounts are filled with quotes from the Holy Father about the need to reform socio-economic systems. Some examples include:
- “Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitable succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.”