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De Blasio invites Pope Francis to New York

Bill de Blasio meets with Vatican Secretary of

Bill de Blasio meets with Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin at the Vatican on July 21, 2014 in a photo released by the Vatican press office. Credit: Getty Images

Mayor Bill de Blasio visited with the Vatican's secretary of state Monday and extended a personal invitation to Pope Francis to visit New York City.

De Blasio met with Cardinal Pietro Parolin and discussed a potential papal visit, which New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan also backs.

"We understand that no one has a more difficult schedule in the world than the pope," de Blasio told reporters after the Vatican meeting. "And nothing definitive was decided in the meeting, but Cardinal Parolin was very open to the request."

De Blasio, who is on a nine-day tour of his ancestral homeland of Italy with his family, did not meet with the pope.

The mayor said he has Catholic family members but was not raised Catholic. He has often complimented Pope Francis, Monday calling him "the leading voice on the Earth" against income inequality.

Parolin and de Blasio also discussed New York City's new municipal IDs for residents, which are granted regardless of immigration status, and the immigration crisis in Central America, the mayor said.

De Blasio also said the possibility of a papal visit is part of an "ongoing dialogue," but added that the United Nations' proximity may be a draw.

"I think the point is to make clear how much enthusiasm there would be in New York City, and how the City of New York would do everything to accommodate his visit," de Blasio said.

U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Ken Hackett added, "It was very important for the mayor to come here to make this request."

Joseph Zwilling, spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, said Dolan had already invited the pope to the city.

"We haven't heard anything official about a trip to New York, so we are all waiting with hope and prayers that we will receive good news!" Zwilling said in a statement.

Pope Benedict XVI visited Ground Zero, Yankee Stadium and the UN on his visit in 2008.

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