NY Gov. Kathy Hochul meets Pope Francis while attending climate change conference

Gov. Kathy Hochul briefly met with Pope Francis Thursday in an audience with other elected officials attending a climate change conference hosted by the Vatican.

Hochul, who is Catholic, exchanged a few words with the pontiff before he presented her with a rosary.

The Vatican City visit was the first stop on Hochul’s European trip. The governor will then head to Ireland, where she’s expected to meet with government officials and attend an economic forum.

Gov. Kathy Hochul and several other governors had an audience with Pope Francis in the Vatican Thursday. Vatican pool
Pope Francis gave Gov. Kathy Hochul a rosary after a brief exchange. AP

During the “Joint Summit on Climate” — hosted by two pontifical academies — Hochul touted a $300 million New York state grant program to help municipalities mitigate the effects of climate change.

“Look no further than the words of Pope Francis,” Hochul said in her remarks. “You heard them today. He laid it out – who we need to be looking for, what God expects us to do during our time on this planet, and all of us working together will make it a better place for our children and future generations to come.”

The pope has frequently called for global action and cooperation on climate initiatives.

But environmental activists – feeling burnt after much of their agenda got left out of the state budget approved last month –are whacking Hochul for speaking about climate at the Vatican without expressing support for their proposals.

“If Governor Hochul is serious about climate leadership, she needs to get serious about passing bills in Albany, not cavorting around Europe,” Food & Water Watch Senior NY Organizer Eric Weltman wrote in a statement this week.

Gov. Kathy Hochul praised the Pope’s calls for action on climate change. AP

Food & Water Watch is one of a number of environmental groups pushing for a massive scheme to force corporations to pony up billions of dollars for the state to fund climate initiatives.

Both the state Senate and Assembly have passed the legislation, putting the onus on Hochul to sign it before the end of the year.

Albany’s green machine is also pushing for upping the deposit amount on the state’s bottle deposit system, capping utility bills and other regulations on the power sector and banning a new experimental type of natural gas fracking.

Hochul’s jaunt across the Atlantic comes during the final weeks of the state legislative session — as Albany lawmakers jockey for last-minute priorities before wrapping up their work for the year and hitting the campaign trail.

This is the governor’s second overseas trip since taking over as Governor in 2021. The Democrat visited Israel last year in the weeks following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack.