County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, on a personal trip with his wife, Lourdes, met Pope Francis at the Vatican last week and informally invited the pontiff to visit Miami-Dade.
"He said the politically correct answer: He'll consider it," Gimenez said. He invited the pope to travel to South Florida in 2015.
The mayor traveled to Italy on vacation -- after county business trips to Spain and France -- to celebrate his wife's birthday, which fell on the same day the couple attended Francis' homily during last Wednesday's Mass. Gimenez and his wife attend local services at the Church of the Little Flower in Coral Gables.
After the service, Francis greeted audience members who had obtained tickets to stand in the first row, Gimenez said. That's where the mayor and his wife waited, along with their friends, lawyer and lobbyist Jorge Luis Lopez and his wife, Marile.
Speaking in Spanish, the Argentinian Francis wished Lourdes Gimenez a happy birthday, Carlos Gimenez said, and he also cracked a joke when the Gimenezes noted they had recently celebrated 38 years of marriage.
"Nice guy," the mayor concluded.