Mayor Eric Adams Arrives in Rome Ahead of a Papal Visit

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With New York City at the center of global issues such as the influx of hundreds of thousands of migrants and the college protests about the Israel-Hamas war, Mayor Eric Adams arrived in Rome on Friday ready to discuss peace.

During a three-day trip, the mayor is expected to meet with Pope Francis and attend the World Meeting on Human Fraternity, an event that will bring together Nobel Laureates, athletes and assorted celebrities as a step toward combating the “many forms of violence and wars” around the world.

Earlier this week, the mayor said: “I think that His Holiness has a role right now as we all are trying to deal with the global conflicts.”

The mayor has made his Christian faith a centerpiece of his politics. He has said that God told him three decades ago the exact date that he would become mayor, and that he did not believe in the separation of church and state. The trip to see Pope Francis is “a very special moment for me as being a Christian,” Mr. Adams said Tuesday.

“If you told me someone in this city or country who’s a Christian, and they were allowed to go see the Pope and they’re saying no, they need their head examined,” the mayor said. “I’m going to see the Pope.”

Mr. Adams’s schedule in Rome on Friday, as it often is in New York City, is filled with meetings and events, many of which are closed to the media.

The mayor began the day touring the Colosseum Metro Station construction site with a Roman deputy mayor, and then visited the “urban regeneration” effort in Testaccio, a multiyear project to turn the site of a large slaughterhouse into an arts campus.

Mr. Adams said he liked how officials had found creative ways to build a new metro line next to an ancient structure like the Colosseum. There are also underused sites in economically deprived areas like East New York in Brooklyn that could be rebuilt with a focus on arts and culture, the mayor added after peppering officials with questions.

“There are places in the city that we can actually renovate and change that entire space to become a place where people come together,” he said.

After a roundtable discussion with Nobel Laureates, the mayor met with the mayor of Rome, Roberto Gualtieri. Mr. Adams will also tour the Vatican Museums and visit the Sistine Chapel on Friday.

On Saturday, Mr. Adams is expected to meet the pope along with other conference attendees, and give the opening speech at an event titled “Community in the City,” where over 150 mayors will be in attendance.

When asked why Mr. Adams was asked to give the speech, Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, Vicar General of His Holiness for Vatican City, said that “mayors serve on the frontline, where the effectiveness of every change is gauged. They embody the institutions closest to the people, where principles and decisions are deliberated upon.”

The mayor’s trip is being sponsored by Fratelli Tutti Foundation, which was created by Pope Francis.

For U.S. mayors, questions always arise about the necessity and wisdom of embarking on foreign trips. Mr. Adams deflected those questions, saying there is always an urgent issue that commands his attention and that he felt confident in his management team.

On top of the normal rigors of running New York City, Mr. Adams also faces personal conflicts such as lagging poll numbers, a federal investigation into his campaign fund-raising that saw the F.B.I. seize his personal electronic devices, increasing conflict with the City Council and the prospect of a hotly contested Democratic primary next year.

On Wednesday, a second Democrat, State Senator Zellnor Marie, opened an exploratory committee to begin raising money with the intention of challenging Mr. Adams’s re-election bid. Both prospective opponents, Scott M. Stringer, the former comptroller, and Mr. Myrie, who represents the same district in Brooklyn that Mr. Adams once did, have openly questioned the mayor’s competence in managing the city.

But for Mr. Adams, the opportunity to meet one of the world’s most important religious leaders was too good to pass up, especially for someone who often speaks in theological terms about his efforts to govern the most populous city in the country.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who rebaptized the mayor just before Easter at Rikers Island, one of the most notorious jail complexes in the country, said he was not surprised at the mayor’s excitement about the trip. Mr. Adams attended a nondenominational church of the Church of Christ while growing up in Southeast Queens. His spokesman has said he maintains an affiliation to that church.

“As long as I’ve known him, since the late 1980s, he’s always talked about faith,” Rev. Sharpton said. “I think it’s sincere. I don’t think it’s something concocted.”

Frank Carone, the mayor’s former chief of staff, accompanied Mr. Adams on the trip. He said that he and the mayor discussed what an honor it was to meet Pope Francis and to have the opportunity to meet with Nobel Laureates to discuss ways to achieve peace.

“I would expect that the mayor is very much looking forward to the opportunity to be in the presence of such a servant as Pope Francis,” Mr. Carone said.

Mr. Adams is not the first New York City mayor to travel to the Vatican.

His predecessor, Bill de Blasio, did not get to grasp Pope Francis’s hand when he visited the Vatican in 2015 but left happy “even to be close to him.” Mr. de Blasio later met with Pope Francis when he visited New York City.

Former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg similarly met with Pope Benedict XVI in 2008 when he visited New York City.

Andrea Zevi, the deputy mayor of Heritage and Housing for Rome, said Mr. Adams peppered him with good questions at the Colosseum Metro Station construction site until his handlers reminded him that they had to leave to get to his next event on time.

“City-to-city cooperation and interaction can help build a stable world,” Mr. Zevi said. “Cities are often the place of problems but also the place of solutions.”

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