Pope says it's crazy to see his meeting with Bernie Sanders as political

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Bernie Sanders meets Pope Francis during visit to Vatican City

Pope Francis said on Saturday that his meeting with Bernie Sanders, contesting the Democratic candidacy for the U.S. Presidency, was not meddling in politics and that anyone who thought otherwise should "look for a psychiatrist".

Sanders and the pope met briefly on Saturday morning at the Vatican guest house where Francis lives and where Sanders and his wife spent the night after he addressed a Vatican conference on social justice.

"When I came down, I greeted him, I shook his hand and nothing more. This is called good manners and it is not getting involved in politics," the pope told reporters in answer to a question aboard the plane returning from the Greek island of Lesbos, where he visited a refugee camp. [L5N17J063].

Images from Bernie Sanders meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican:

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Bernie Sanders meets Pope Francis at the Vatican
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Pope says it's crazy to see his meeting with Bernie Sanders as political
US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders flanked by his wife Jane O'Meara, right, arrive at a hotel near the Vatican Saturday, April 16, 2016. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says in an interview with The Associated Press that he met with Pope Francis. Sanders says the meeting took place Saturday morning before the pope left for his one-day visit to Greece. He says he was honored by the meeting, and that he told the pope he appreciated the message that he is sending the world about the need to inject morality and justice into the world economy. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, sitting in the back of the car, is welcomed by supporters upon his arrival at the Vatican to attend a conference, Friday, April 15, 2016. The Vatican conference drawing Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders away from the campaign for New York delegates is steeped in his lifelong passions of economic and social justice and reflects his admiration for Pope Francis. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, backdropped by St. Peter's Basilica, leaves after an interview with the Associated Press, at the Vatican Saturday, April 16, 2016. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says in an interview with The Associated Press that he met with Pope Francis. Sanders says the meeting took place Saturday morning before the pope left for his one-day visit to Greece. He says he was honored by the meeting, and that he told the pope he appreciated the message that he is sending the world about the need to inject morality and justice into the world economy. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, backdropped by St. Peter's Basilica, talks during an interview with the Associated Press, at the Vatican Saturday, April 16, 2016. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says in an interview with The Associated Press that he met with Pope Francis. Sanders says the meeting took place Saturday morning before the pope left for his one-day visit to Greece. He says he was honored by the meeting, and that he told the pope he appreciated the message that he is sending the world about the need to inject morality and justice into the world economy. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, backdropped by the dome of St. Peter's Basilica, leaves after an interview with the Associated Press, at the Vatican Saturday, April 16, 2016. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says in an interview with The Associated Press that he met with Pope Francis. Sanders says the meeting took place Saturday morning before the pope left for his one-day visit to Greece. He says he was honored by the meeting, and that he told the pope he appreciated the message that he is sending the world about the need to inject morality and justice into the world economy. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders talks as he meets reporters at the Vatican Saturday, April 16, 2016. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says in an interview with The Associated Press that he met with Pope Francis. Sanders says the meeting took place Saturday morning before the pope left for his one-day visit to Greece. He says he was honored by the meeting, and that he told the pope he appreciated the message that he is sending the world about the need to inject morality and justice into the world economy. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, backdropped by St. Peter's Basilica, talks during an interview with the Associated Press, at the Vatican Saturday, April 16, 2016. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says in an interview with The Associated Press that he met with Pope Francis. Sanders says the meeting took place Saturday morning before the pope left for his one-day visit to Greece. He says he was honored by the meeting, and that he told the pope he appreciated the message that he is sending the world about the need to inject morality and justice into the world economy. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, backdropped by the dome of St. Peter's Basilica, leaves after an interview with the Associated Press, at the Vatican Saturday, April 16, 2016. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says in an interview with The Associated Press that he met with Pope Francis. Sanders says the meeting took place Saturday morning before the pope left for his one-day visit to Greece. He says he was honored by the meeting, and that he told the pope he appreciated the message that he is sending the world about the need to inject morality and justice into the world economy. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
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"If anyone thinks that greeting someone is getting involved in politics, I recommend that he look for a psychiatrist," he said, laughing.

In an interview with ABC News after the meeting, Sanders called the pope "a beautiful man", adding "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, a Brooklyn-born son of Polish Jewish immigrants, told ABC.

Click through images from Bernie Sanders' NYC Washington Square rally:

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Bernie Sanders NYC Washington Square rally
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Pope says it's crazy to see his meeting with Bernie Sanders as political
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 13: Attendees await the start of a campaign event for Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (not pictured) at Washington Square Park on April 13, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 13: Attendees await the start of a campaign event for Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (not pictured) at Washington Square Park on April 13, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/WireImage)
Attendees hold signs in support of Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, not pictured, at a campaign event in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, April 13, 2016. Sanders stepped up his feud with General Electric Co., denouncing the manufacturer as 'greedy' and accusing Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt of not being truthful in responding to the attacks. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Natalia Plaza (L) and Suzanne Tufan, with their faces painted, wait for a campaign rally with U.S. Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders in Washington Square Park in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York, New York April 13, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
An attendee wears a t-shirt in support of Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, not pictured, at a campaign event in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, April 13, 2016. Sanders stepped up his feud with General Electric Co., denouncing the manufacturer as 'greedy' and accusing Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt of not being truthful in responding to the attacks. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
An attendee holds a sign in support of Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, not pictured, at a campaign event in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, April 13, 2016. Sanders stepped up his feud with General Electric Co., denouncing the manufacturer as 'greedy' and accusing Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt of not being truthful in responding to the attacks. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 13: Rosario Dawson speaks onstage at a campaign event for Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (not pictured) at Washington Square Park on April 13, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 13: Film director Spike Lee attends the Bernie Sanders rally in Washington Square Park on April 13, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Mireya Acierto/FilmMagic)
MANHATTAN, NY - APRIL 13: U.S. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-VT) campaigns at Washington Square Park in Manhattan, NY, on April 13, 2016. (Photo by Yana Paskova/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders addresses supporters at his campaign rally in Washington Square Park in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City, April 13, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders addresses supporters at his campaign rally in Washington Square Park in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City, April 13, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
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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 who 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. After he won seven of the last eight state contests, a loss in Sanders' home state would give front-runner Clinton a boost toward the party's presidential nomination.

Sanders has said the trip was not a pitch for the Catholic vote but a testament to his admiration for the pontiff.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Additional reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Ralph Boulton)

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