Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday sat down with Cardinal Timothy Dolan for a closed door meeting and said that both leaders share common ground when it comes to income inequality and fighting poverty. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.
A private sit-down between the city's new mayor and its Catholic leader is leading to jokes and smiles, and a little bit of bantering in Italian.
"We both were able to speak in Italian," said Cardinal Timothy Dolan. "This'll be a good way to get around the press."
The upbeat photo-op seemed designed to help the mayor move past the controversy that ensued after he announced his 60-member transition committee. It included other religious leaders, but not a Catholic priest.
Dolan downplayed the incident.
"The important thing was that he corrected that as soon as it was brought to his attention," he said.
Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, the executive director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, was added to de Blasio's transition committee in November.
De Blasio's mother was Catholic, and he was baptized, but the mayor is not affiliated with any organized religions. He has said he considers himself spiritual.
"We didn't get into the specifics of his faith, but if he ever wants to, the door is open," Dolan said.
The two men met for 45 minutes in the cardinal's official residence. The meeting was closed to the press. Afterwards, in front of a bank of cameras, they played up areas of agreement.
"We have tremendous common ground on issues like affordable housing, helping those in need through Catholic charities," de Blasio said.
Dolan said that he is excited to work closely with the mayor on many issues, including the city's now-defunct plan to rezone a large swath of Midtown. Dolan supported the Bloomberg administration proposal, which would have allowed St. Patrick's Cathedral to sell its air rights. De Blasio said he is focused on putting together a new proposal that addresses the infrastructure needs of the neighborhood and is a good deal for New Yorkers.
The mayor and cardinal also spoke about their desire to see Pope Francis visit New York City. The pair said they planned to work together to try and make it happen.