MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – More is expected to be learned Wednesday about Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges’ trip to the Vatican.
She is currently there with nine other U.S. mayors for a two-day conference on sex trafficking and climate change.
Hodges is the only leader from the Midwest and the only female U.S. mayor on the trip.
Pope Francis told the mayors that humans are causing destruction by not taking care of the earth.
The local leaders and the pope signed a declaration that says “human-induced climate change is a scientific reality and its effective control is a moral imperative for humanity.”
Hodges, who is not Catholic, said meeting the pope was a profound experience.
“He walked in, music didn’t play, there wasn’t a lot of pomp and circumstance,” she said. “He came in and he sat down and he talked with us.”
Hodges said the pope has a powerful presence but remains relatable.
“I can see why he inspires such loyalty and fealty from people,” she said.
Hodges tweeted about some of the discussions at the Vatican, saying they focused, at times, on urban inequality, human development and social inclusion.
She said the Mayor of Accra, Ghana spent decades in the U.S. before returning home to be mayor where they are facing flooding issues on a small budget.
According to Hodges’ tweets, Ghana’s mayor said 159 people died in floods in June, largely because there’s a lack of environmental sanitation.
Hodges also said the trip shows Minneapolis is blessed with a more sustainable water source, compared to other cities.
The conference is also trying to show how climate change and human trafficking are related.
Hodges says the impact of climate makes people who are already vulnerable to trafficking more defenseless.
She says those who have to migrate from where they live because their house fell into the sea, or because there’s a drought become even more vulnerable to trafficking.