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Gerard O’ConnellApril 26, 2024
Pope Francis shakes hands with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni during a meeting about families and Italy's declining birthrate May 12, 2023, in Rome. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

In a surprise announcement on April 26, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said that Pope Francis had accepted her invitation to participate in the G7 summit in Italy’s Apulia region, June 13 to 15.

“His presence brings prestige to our nation and to the entire Group of 7. It is the first time that a pope will participate in the work of the G7,” she said.

On Jan. 1, 2024, Italy assumed the presidency of the G7 and will hold that role until the end of the year. As prime minister of Italy, the host nation for the G7 meeting, Ms. Meloni will chair the summit.

The G7 is the group that brings together the heads of state or government of Italy, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, seven of the world’s most industrialized countries. The president of the European Commission, with its 27 member states, will also take part in the summit.

President Joe Biden is expected to attend with France’s President Emmanuel Macron, the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the leaders of the other G7 countries.

In addition to Pope Francis, Argentina’s President Javier Milei will be one of the guests who are not members of the G7. Francis met him in the Vatican on Feb. 12.

Pope Francis will likely meet President Biden either at that meeting or in the Vatican. It would be their second meeting since Mr. Biden became president. Francis last spoke to Mr. Biden on Oct. 22, 2023, by phone, when the pope sought to get him to try to stop the war in Gaza and find a path to peace, but to no avail. He will likely reinforce that call at their next meeting as well as discuss the war in Ukraine and how to bring peace there.

The Holy See Press Office on Friday confirmed that Pope Francis will intervene in the G7 summit in the session devoted to artificial intelligence.

Ms. Meloni, 47, thanked the pope, 87, for accepting the invitation and said, “He will attend the G7 working session, especially that part dedicated to artificial intelligence.” She described A.I. as one of the great challenges facing humanity today.

“He will participate in the outreach session that is also open to other invited countries, not just to the G7,” she explained.

“I am convinced that his presence will contribute to the formulation of an ethical and cultural framework for A.I.,” she added.

She announced the pope’s participation in a video message in which she also listed the items that will be on the agenda of the leaders of the G7 summit. Those include: supporting Ukraine and finding a path to lasting peace there; preventing the escalation of conflict in the Middle East; addressing climate change; building more equal relationships with developing countries, particularly in Africa; addressing the migrant crisis and combating human trafficking; and reflecting on the risks and opportunities of artificial intelligence. With regard to the final agenda item, Ms. Meloni said she intended to bring the Holy See’s statement “Rome Call for AI Ethics” to the attention of the G7 participants.

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