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  • U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Sanders arrives to participate in a conference at the Vatican.

    U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Sanders arrives to participate in a conference at the Vatican. | Photo: Reuters

Economist Jeffrey Sachs, who accompanied Sanders, said that his trip is not a campaign move, but an issue he has been pushing for decades.

Pope Francis met U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in the Vatican on Saturday morning and the two discussed the need for morality in the world economy before the pontiff left for a visit to the Greek island of Lesbos.

The Vatican had said that a meeting between the two was not planned, and Sanders said he did not expect to meet the pope during his trip.

"He is a beautiful man," Sanders said in an interview with ABC News after the meeting. "I am not a Catholic, but there is a radiance that comes from him."

"I just conveyed to him my admiration for the extraordinary work he is doing raising some of the most important issues facing our planet and the billions of people on the planet and injecting the need for morality in the global economy," Sanders told ABC.

The Democratic hopeful from Vermont has campaigned on a promise to rein in corporate power and level the economic playing field for working and lower-income Americans whom he says have been left behind, a message echoing that of the pope.

The meeting came just days before Tuesday's Democratic party primary in New York, where polls say he is trailing Hillary Clinton.

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