Pope Francis to address G7 summit, meet with heads of state

Pope Francis rides in a golf cart with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni after arriving by helicopter at the Group of Seven summit in Borgo Egnazia, in Italy's southern Puglia region, June 14, 2024. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis is scheduled to sit down with U.S. President Joe Biden and eight other heads of state in a series of private bilateral meetings during the Group of Seven (G7) summit being held in southern Italy June 13-15, according to a scheduled published by the Vatican Secretariat of State.

The pope will also address government leaders and representatives of European and international organizations during an “outreach” discussion on artificial intelligence June 14, and he will meet privately with the head of the International Monetary Fund.

The pope arrived by helicopter in Borgo Egnazia in the Puglia region the afternoon of June 14. He was welcomed by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, as Italy is hosting the annual summit this year.

Pope Francis will then hold his first series of bilateral meetings with: Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund; Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy; French President Emmanuel Macron; and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

After delivering a speech during the session devoted to artificial intelligence, the pope will hold a final series of bilateral talks with: Kenyan President William Ruto; Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi; Biden; Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva; Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan; and Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.

The pope is scheduled to depart before 8 p.m. local time to return to the Vatican after 9 p.m.

The G7 is made up of the United States, Japan, Canada, Germany, France, Italy and Great Britain. The European Union also takes part in all discussions through its delegates: the presidents of both the European Council and the European Commission.

The host country usually invites other leaders to take part in some of the G7 sessions and this year, Pope Francis, King Abdullah II of Jordan and the leaders of Argentina, the United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, Mauritania and other countries were scheduled to attend.

“This is the first time a Pontiff is participating in the work of the Group of Seven and this can only bring prestige to Italy and the entire @G7,” Meloni wrote on X April 26 in a posting that included a video announcement.

In the video, she called artificial intelligence “the greatest anthropological challenge of our time,” and one requiring legal mechanisms to ensure it is “human-centered and human-controlled.”

The prime minister said that in discussing the issue, she would like the government leaders to benefit from the ethical reflections that the Vatican has been promoting since 2020 with its “Rome Call for AI Ethics,” a project coordinated by the Pontifical Academy for Life that has been signed by top leaders of Microsoft, IBM, Cisco and other major players in the field.


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