U.S. Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders met with Pope Francis at the Vatican for five minutes on Saturday, according to U.S. media reports.
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"I am not a Catholic, but there is a radiance that comes from him. It was very wonderful to meet him," Sanders told NBC News.
They touched on the topics of climate change and foreign policy during the 6 A.M. chat at the pontiff's residence, held shortly before the pope departed for the Greek island of Lesbos to meet with refugees.
Pope Francis is "one of the great leaders in modern world history," Sanders told NBC.
The theme of economic inequality is central to Sanders' campaign and familiar territory for the pope, who has called it the "root of social evil."
Sanders travelled to the Vatican to address a conference on social and economic issues at the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences but was originally told that a meeting with the pope was unlikely.
The Vermont senator trails rival Hillary Clinton in the delegate count for the Democratic presidential nomination. His trip to the Vatican comes just days ahead of the New York primary election on April 19.