Vermont Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersCoronavirus makes the campaign season treacherous for Joe Biden Biden could be picking the next president: VP choice more important than ever Democrats eye additional relief checks for coronavirus MORE (I) on Wednesday praised Pope FrancisPope FrancisPope tests negative for coronavirus, Vatican says Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — US coronavirus cases hit 100,000 | Trump signs T stimulus package | Trump employs defense powers to force GM to make ventilators | New concerns over virus testing Pope Francis delivers special prayer for end to coronavirus pandemic MORE for pushing a “progressive agenda” on matters like income inequality and climate change.

In an interview on CNN’s “New Day” outside the White House ahead of the pope’s visit, presidential candidate Sanders said it’s a message that many Republicans “do not want to hear.”

“He has a very, very progressive agenda,” Sanders said. “He’s looking into the eyes of the wealthiest people in this country and he’s saying, 'You know what? You cannot continue to ignore the needs of the poor. You cannot continue to ignore the needs of the sick.'


“He’s also saying that trickle-down economic theory — he’s very specific about that — doesn’t work," Sanders continued. “That government itself is obliged to protect those who are vulnerable, and that’s a message, I have to oblige, that many of my Republican colleagues do not want to hear.”

The pope remains staunchly conservative on social issues important to many Republicans, like abortion and same-sex marriage.

However, the pope has frustrated many Republicans for criticizing capitalism, saying it’s led to a culture of greed that leaves economic classes separated by an insurmountable gulf.

“He’s reaching out to people all over the world with a strong message of social justice, talking about the grotesque levels of income inequality that exist all over the world,” Sanders continued. “He is saying that as a planet, as a people, we have got to get better. That the accumulation and worship of money is not what life should be about, that we cannot turn our backs on our fellow human beings.”

Francis has also been at odds with Republicans for trumpeting the dangers of climate change.

“He’s talking about climate change as a religious person,” Sanders said. “This is God’s Earth and you cannot destroy it. We have to be aggressive in transforming our energy system.”