The Latest: Sanders warns of inequality at Vatican meeting

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The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ trip to Rome to speak the Vatican conference on social and economic justice (all times Eastern Daylight Time):

10:50 a.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is telling a Vatican conference that young people today are no longer satisfied with an economy “of stark inequality and injustice” and want instead an economy that looks out for the common good.

Speaking Friday at the Vatican, Sanders said today’s youth — in the United States and elsewhere — are looking for a “return to fairness” and an economy that ensures everyone has access to health care, nutrition and education.

He said: “Our youth are no longer satisfied with corrupt and broken politics and an economy of stark inequality and injustice.”

Sanders was speaking at a Vatican conference commemorating the 25th anniversary of St. John Paul II’s 1991 encyclical “Centesimus Annus” on the economy and social justice at the end of the Cold War.

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10:35 a.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is issuing a global call to address “immoral and unsustainable” wealth inequality and poverty in a Vatican address that embraces the teachings of Pope Francis.

Sanders cited Francis and St. John Paul II repeatedly during his speech Friday to the Vatican conference commemorating the 25th anniversary of a landmark teaching document from John Paul on social and economic justice after the Cold War.

Sanders told the audience of priests, bishops, academics and two South American presidents that instead of a world economy that looks out for the common good, “we have been left with an economy operated for the top 1 percent, who get richer and richer as the working class, the young and the poor fall further and further behind.”

Echoing some of his main campaign messages, Sanders said “billionaires and banks have reaped the returns of their campaign investments, in the form of special tax privileges, imbalanced trade agreements that favor investors over workers, and that even give multinational companies extra-judicial power over governments that are trying to regulate them.”

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10:05 a.m.

One of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ foreign policy advisers is telling a Vatican conference that U.S. corporate greed and corruption have contributed to repeated financial, social and environmental crises.

Jeffrey Sachs, economist and head of the U.N.’s sustainable development network, told the Vatican conference that it’s time to “end the impunity of the rich and powerful.”

Sanders is expected to address the conference later Friday.

The conference is commemorating the 25th anniversary of St. John Paul II’s 1991 encyclical “Centesimus Annus” on the economy and social justice at the end of the Cold War.

Sachs, who was Poland’s lead economic adviser at the time and worked on the document, said it had aimed to support the market economic system being in adopted in Eastern Europe but “with the clear admonition to embed the market system in a moral system based on the universal destination of goods.”

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9:05 a.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has landed in Rome to attend a Vatican conference steeped in his lifelong passions of economic and social justice.

The Vermont senator is making the trip even while he faces a crucial New York primary against rival Hillary Clinton next week.

The self-described democratic socialist is an admirer of Pope Francis and will join several speakers commemorating the 25th anniversary of “Centesimus Annus,” a high-level teaching document by Pope John Paul II on the economy and social justice at the end of the Cold War.

The roughly 24-hour break from the campaign comes just five days before the New York primary.

Sanders is joined by his wife, Jane Sanders, and 10 family members, including four grandchildren.

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8:50 a.m.

Pope Francis has met with at least one participant of the Vatican conference on social and economic justice that Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is attending: Bolivian President Evo Morales.

Morales met for about a half-hour Friday morning with Francis before heading into the conference. Morales once again raised eyebrows with an unusual gift for the pontiff: three books about the health benefits of the coca leaf, the raw ingredient for cocaine.

The Vatican has said Francis has no plans to meet with conference participants or with Sanders.

He has a longstanding friendship with Morales, however, and visited him in Bolivia last summer. Morales sparked a minor diplomatic incident during the visit when he gave the pope a crucifix fashioned as a communist-style hammer and sickle. Francis said he wasn’t offended.

Coca leaf is widely chewed in the Andes to fight against altitude sickness and as a mild stimulant.

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3:00 a.m.

The Vatican conference drawing Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders away from the campaign for New York delegates is steeped in his lifelong passions of economic and social justice and reflects his admiration for Pope Francis.

Sanders departed New York for Rome after Thursday night’s debate with front-running rival Hillary Clinton. The self-described democratic socialist will join several speakers commemorating a high-level teaching document by Pope John Paul II on the economy and social justice at the end of the Cold War.

The Vermont senator is joined by his wife, Jane, and 10 family members, including four grandchildren. His spokesman said Sanders was still working on a draft of his speech on the plane.

The roughly 24-hour break from the campaign comes just five days before the New York primary.

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