NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Mayor Bill de Blasio has paid a call on Pope Francis’ top aide to discuss migration issues.
De Blasio met Monday with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state, during his family trip to Italy.
Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said the two explored approaches to migration.
PHOTOS: De Blasio Family In Italy
“We spoke a lot about immigration, about the immigration crisis in Central America now affecting the United States,” de Blasio said. “The church has been a leader in calling for compassion and support and a humanitarian response as opposed to a political response to the crisis.”
Parolin recently returned from a meeting in Mexico dedicated to migration issues and human rights.
Pope Francis has called for “urgent intervention” to protect migrant minors crossing into the United States on their own. Earlier this month, de Blasio signed a measure offering ID cards to city residents regardless of immigration status.
Lombardi said the chat also provided an “obvious” opportunity for the mayor to offer a welcome mat, should Francis visit the United States next year as many expect.
“It was such an honor to spend time with him and to relate to him how important it would be for the people of New York City to have the pope visit,” de Blasio said. “We understand that no one has a more difficult schedule in the world than the pope and nothing definitive was decided in the meeting, but Cardinal Parolin was very open to the request.”
De Blasio and his family arrived in Italy for their nine-day trip on Saturday. He was supposed to leave with his wife and two children Friday night, but postponed the much-discussed family vacation by a day to consult with officials and community leaders about the death of a Staten Island man in police custody.
On Sunday, the family stopped at a cafe and later took in the views from the balcony of Rome’s city hall, before de Blasio met with the mayor of Rome, Ignazio Marino.
The trip is the longest vacation a sitting mayor will have taken in recent history. Mayor Michael Bloomberg didn’t take a full week off during his three terms.
De Blasio faced criticism from political pundits and TV comedians for his decision to travel before a potential Long Island Rail Road strike was averted.
First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris will oversee day-to-day government functions while the mayor is away. De Blasio will be making daily check-in calls with his cabinet while away.
The de Blasios are paying their own travel expenses, but tax dollars are footing the $13,000 bill for the three City Hall aides traveling with the family, CBS 2 reported.
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