Confusion over the Sanders going to the Vatican story

The original title of the New York Times article that I linked in my earlier post was “Bernie Sanders Accepts Pope Francis’s Invitation to Travel to the Vatican”. The article title now reads “Bernie Sanders to Travel to Papal Conference in Rome”.

Now why would the Times make an adjustment like that, the blogger innocently asks?

First, as the original title implied, it was believed that not only had Pope Francis personally invited Sanders to the conference, but that the Senator was going to meet personally with the Pontiff. Because those who write article titles are not the same people who write the article itself, I’m willing to let that claim go as a simple misunderstanding.

Second, it was initially believed that Sanders is going to the Vatican at its invitation. According to Politico, Sanders had the following exchange on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show:

“How did this come about?” co-host Mika Brzezinski said of the invitation.

“It was an invitation from the Vatican,” Sanders replied.

“That’s kind of impressive,” Brzezinski said.

“It is,” Sanders replied.

“I am a big, big fan of the pope,” he continued. “Obviously, there are areas where we disagree, on like women’s rights or gay rights, but he has played an unbelievable role — an unbelievable role — of injecting the moral consequence into the economy.”

There are two problems with this. First, Politico reports that Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, the chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, an autonomous institution that receives some funding from the Holy See but is not officially part of it, made the invitation to Sanders. Second, there is confusion as to who reached out to whom for Sanders to participate in the conference. Margaret Archer, president of the academy, told Bloomberg that “Sanders made the first move, for the obvious reasons”. Both the Sanders campaign and Bishop Sorondo insist that the Vatican invited Sanders to the conference, although the Bloomberg report notes that the Bishop “repeatedly declined to say who initiated the contact.”