Hodges to meet with pope to discuss environment, trafficking

Pope Francis
Pope Francis addresses the crowd during a weekly general audience at St. Peter's Square in June.
Alberto Pizzoli | AFP/Getty Images

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges will join more than 60 mayors from around the world to meet with Pope Francis Tuesday as part of a conference on climate change and human trafficking.

The pope has said that both issues are the result of human selfishness and a lack of regard for other people, especially the poor.

Mayor Betsy Hodges
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges delivers her State of the City address at the American Swedish Institute in April.
Curtis Gilbert | MPR News

Hodges says that while both problems are global, their solutions begin at the local level — especially in the U.S.

"You know the gridlock in Congress makes it all the more critical that cities be innovative and take an active role in creating policies, setting standards, implementing initiatives, because then we can actually get things done for residents and create real imact in communities in a way that Congress has been unwilling to do," she said.

Mayors from cities from New York to Soroti, Uganda, are scheduled to participate.

The conference involves a half-hour meeting with Pope Francis, who has said that he believes that global warming and what he calls "modern slavery" are both caused by a lack of regard for other people.

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Hodges said she sees the event as an opportunity to exchange ideas. The developing world, she said, may be able to learn from mistakes more developed cities made in the past.

"There are going to be steps they can jump over, and they can get right to certain kinds of transit. They can get right to renewable energy," she said. "And sharing our best practices could be useful to people. I don't know. What I do know is that they will also be able to share with us solutions they are finding on the ground."

Hodges says while she in not a member of any church, she has deep respect for Pope Francis.

The Vatican and conference sponsors will cover travel costs for Hodges and her chief of staff. She will stay a few extra days at her own expense.