Not wanting to wade too deeply into the political discussions, it strikes me that every Pope needs to highlight something that is important to them. When the numbers were tallied for Pope Francis’ election, one of the Cardinals sitting next to him leaned over and said “Please do not forget the poor!”. I suspect the timing of this statement made a deep impression and Pope Francis has certainly kept a focus on the poor.
I believe that Pope Francis, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump all see the same things (but through their own filters and life experiences). Each of them see populations that are disenfranchised and try to take action within their sphere of understanding and influence to improve their lives. Each of them understands there is a threshold past which disenchantment leads to violence and chaos and each of them wants to turn things around before it’s too late. Because of who they are, they see different populations and different levels of pain, but these are all related.
The status quo politicians and clerics either miss the problem or are too invested in maintaining it, but the people who are suffering (some, much worse than others) recognize that something is wrong and are looking for someone to make it better. This level of despair often leads to poor choices in leadership, as history attests, so we pray to the Holy Spirit to guide the world to make the right choices.
I noticed, recently, that Pope Francis, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are starting to recognize their similarities. The Vatican invited Bernie to a conference because there is a common interest in the massive imbalance of wealth. At the same time, Donald Trump is starting to comment on Bernie’s treatment as an “outsider” and how both are mistreated by their parties. There are plenty of pundits maneuvering for air time to convince us that their issues are more worthy of our attention, but if we step back a bit and listen, we see a common theme evolving and a bigger picture emerge.