16 April 2016
US Election 2016
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has confirmed he did meet the Pope during his trip to the Vatican, saying he was "honoured".
The brief meeting took place on Saturday morning at Pope Francis's residence before he
Mr Sanders described the Pope as one of the "extraordinary figures... in modern world history".
An aide said the meeting lasted five minutes and no photographs were taken.
Mr Sanders told Associated Press: "I told him that I was incredibly appreciative of the incredible role that he is playing in this planet in discussing issues about the need for an economy based on morality, not greed.
"It was a real honour for me, for my wife and I to spend some time with him. I think he is one of the extraordinary figures not only in the world today but in modern world history."
Mr Sanders had been in the Vatican to attend a conference on economy and social justice.
The visit comes just four days before Tuesday's crucial state primary contest in his native New York.
On Thursday night, the Vermont senator and his rival Hillary Clinton clashed on Wall Street banks, gun controls and the minimum wage in a punchy debate.
Some political commentators have wondered why he would travel to Rome so close to the New York primary.
"It's a real misstep," New York Times columnist Charles Blow said on CNN. "He's basically going to be saying the same thing there that he's been saying here."
Mr Sanders' campaign manager Jeff Weaver defended the trip at a rally.
"Hillary Clinton has been out of the state on a number of occasions for high-dollar fundraisers," he said. "We think this is a more important reason to leave the campaign trail for the day."
Mrs Clinton, who represented the state in the US Senate for two terms, holds a commanding lead in New York, according to recent polls.
Democratic road to the White