WASHINGTON: Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders briefly met Pope Francis at the Vatican on Saturday, using the lightning visit to align his White House bid with the popular pontiff’s advocacy of a “moral economy.” Sanders, who broke away from the presidential campaign trail to travel to Rome, spoke of the five-minute meeting after-ward in interviews with CNN and ABC, calling the pope “a beautiful man.” There were no cameras at the meeting, which was described as an encounter in a foyer at the pope’s residence at Santa Marta, shortly before he depart-ed for the Greek island of Lesbos to see the plight of refugees. The quick meeting was particularly striking because Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, is a secular Jew whose positions on social issues are far from those of the Pope. “I was leaving Santa Marta. He knew that I was leaving and he was kind enough to greet me,” the Pope later told reporters on the flight home from Lesbos. “I greeted him and his wife and another couple who were with them and staying at Santa Marta. Nothing more. It was a matter of politeness and if anybody thinks that greeting somebody amounts to meddling in politics, they should go find a psychiatrist.” But it clearly was a dramatic way for Sanders to gain attention for his campaign, just three days before a crucial primary in New York, where he faces off against frontrunner Hillary Clinton.