ROME – Adding to what was already a busy papal schedule for 2024, the Vatican confirmed Friday that Pope Francis will participate, in person, in a G7 summit scheduled for the southern Italian region of Puglia June 13-15.

According to a statement from Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, the pope will take part in a session of the G7 summit dedicated to artificial intelligence, a subject of mounting concern to this papacy.

The pope’s participation will mark the first time a pontiff has taken part in a G7 summit, which has been meeting on a regular basis since 1975 and is considered the most important annual gathering of the leaders of the major Western powers.

The Pontifical Academy for Life organized a summit in 2020 along with major global technology firms such as Microsoft and IBM, which produced a document known as the “Rome Call for AI Ethics.” More recently, Francis devoted his messages both for the 2024 World Day of Peace and also the World Day of Social Communications to the theme of artificial intelligence.

“We carried a movement forward from the base, now the pope at the G7 will speak to governments,” said Italian Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, head of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

The Rome Call is premised in part on what the document calls “algorethics,” meaning an ethical code for the digital age.

“Signatories committed to request the development of an artificial intelligence that serves every person and humanity as a whole; that respects the dignity of the human person, so that every individual can benefit from the advances of technology; and that does not have as its sole goal greater profit or the gradual replacement of people in the workplace,” the document says.”

Italian Father Paolo Benanti, an advisor to both the Vatican and the Italian government on AI issues, said the Rome Call for AI ethics “demonstrates the wisdom of religions on the subject, so that a future of peace and prosperity can be assured for humanity.”

“In this context, the participation of the pope at the G7 in Puglia is of great importance,” Benanti said.

The G7 summit brings together the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan, as well as the European Union.

This year Italy holds the rotating presidency of the G7. It will mark the fifth time the summit has been held in Italy, with the most recent coming in Genoa in 2001, when the body was still known as the “G8” with the participation of Russia.

“I’m convinced that the presence of His Holiness will give a decisive contribution to the definition of a regulatory, ethical and cultural framework for artificial intelligence,” Meloni said in a video statement announcing the pope’s presence.

Last Wednesday, Pope Francis met the CEO of Cisco Systems, Chuck Robbins, who was in the Vatican to sign on to the 2020 Rome Call for AI Ethics.

Robbins said at the time that “the Rome Call principles align with Cisco’s core belief that technology must be built on a foundation of trust at the highest levels in order to power an inclusive future for all.”

Recently, Paglia announced that a group of leaders of Asian religions will meet in Hiroshima, Japan, in July, in order to sign the Rome Call for AI Ethics. That summit follows a similar event in 2022 when Jewish and Muslim leaders signed on to the document.