New York News

Mayor Adams Calls His Vatican Audience With Pope Francis ‘A Sacred Moment for Me’

Pope Francis greets New York Mayor Eric Adams during an audience with participants at the World Meeting on Human Fraternity in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican on May 11, 2024. (Photo: CNS/Vatican Media, via mayor’s office Flickr account)

PROSPECT HEIGHTS – New York City Mayor Eric Adams described his May 10-11 trip to the Vatican — where he attended a conference and met with Pope Francis — as “something that was extremely dear to me.”

He told reporters in a virtual news conference May 11 that although he is not a practicing Catholic, the visit to the global center of Catholicism was “a very important moment … for a spiritual outlet.”

The mayor was attending the second edition of the World Meeting on Human Fraternity, a conference at the Vatican organized by the Fratelli Tutti Foundation. The conference brought Nobel laureates, government officials, scientists, experts, athletes, and artists to a series of roundtable discussions to discuss ways to strengthen solidarity and peace.

Adams also had an audience May 11 with Pope Francis at the Vatican, which he said was the highlight of his visit.

“As someone who’s deeply connected to my own faith and as the mayor of a city with millions of Catholics, it was a sacred moment for me just to have an opportunity to hear from Pope Francis as he leads the world on the most important issues of our time, from the global refugee crisis to climate change, to the journey towards peace,” the mayor said. He said the pope “shows us how to meet these challenges with compassion, most importantly, with love.”

Adams also stressed that the pope’s message is that “faith can bring us closer together” and that “no matter what God we believe in, what we look like, or where we live, it’s important for us to know that we can come through these tough times together.”

The mayor said that during his stay he took part in a program called “Take Back Roma” which focused on cleaning up and beautifying the city, something he said he would like to attempt to duplicate in New York City.

New York Mayor Eric Adams paints over graffiti with Rome Mayor Roberto Gualtieri in Rome’s Trastevere neighborhood May 11, 2024. The two mayors were taking part in an annual city-wide initiative called, “Rome Takes Care of Rome.” (Photo: CNS/Courtesy of Mayoral Photography Office/Michael Appleton)

He said that in his own remarks at the public session of the World Meeting on Human Fraternity, he discussed the important role that cities play in addressing global changes and said he was encouraged to hear from mayors across Italy who deal with similar challenges.

One challenge the meeting highlighted was about helping asylum-seekers and refugees, which he said is a “global and a local crisis, and we’re going to need the national and state governments to respond appropriately. We want to make sure we can prevent exploitation of asylum-seekers and other migrants by human trafficking and other forms of danger” and give them “paths to integrate into their new lives.”

When asked about his meeting with the pope, Adams said he spoke to him about global conflicts and asked for his prayers for dealing with them, especially what is happening in Haiti and the Middle East as well as current signs of antisemitism. He said the pope asked him to pray for him as well, which Adams said “just shows the humanity inside him as a person.”

The trip also included visits to houses of worship of each of the three major monotheistic religions, and Adams said he took away from that experience that these faith traditions have the same underlying theme: “be kind to your fellow man, be there to assist them as they move forward, and let your faith be shown through you as you move about your daily lives.”

He said his overall takeaway from the trip was the similarity of cities in the United States and Italy, noting that in conversations with mayors he said it is “clear that we are facing the same challenges” and need to come together to deal with issues, such as the environment, housing, public safety, and other challenges.

A Catholic News Service report about the conference said that during one of the roundtable sessions where Adams was a keynote speaker, he told the group of mayors: “There is far too much cynicism about what the future holds for humankind.”

“But today, I’m filled with hope and positivity as I hear your stories and plans to create a more just and humane world. Let’s continue to work together on solutions for the urban challenges facing every city across the globe.”