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Pencil Preaching for Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Oklahoma board approves first Catholic charter school in the country

null / Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Jun 5, 2023 / 16:50 pm (CNA).

The state of Oklahoma approved the country’s first-ever religious charter school on Monday. The move will allow public funds to pay the tuition of children attending an online Catholic school run by the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and the Diocese of Tulsa.

The Statewide Virtual Charter School Board voted 3-2 to approve St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School in a three-hour-long meeting. The “yes” votes included a new member who was appointed by Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt on Friday.

In a statement, the governor applauded the decision.

“This is a win for religious liberty and education freedom in our great state, and I am encouraged by these efforts to give parents more options when it comes to their child’s education,” Stitt said.

“Oklahomans support religious liberty for all and support an increasingly innovative educational system that expands choice,” the governor added. “Today, with the nation watching, our state showed that we will not stand for religious discrimination.”

Because charter schools are public schools funded by taxpayers, the decision to fund a religiously affiliated charter school is already coming under legal scrutiny. Republican Attorney General Gentner Drummond rebuked the board’s vote and said the action was unconstitutional.

“The approval of any publicly funded religious school is contrary to Oklahoma law and not in the best interest of taxpayers,” Drummond said. “It’s extremely disappointing that board members violated their oath in order to fund religious schools with our tax dollars. In doing so, these members have exposed themselves and the state to potential legal action that could be costly.”

State Superintendent Ryan Walters disagreed with the attorney general, stating that the move expands school choice.

“This decision reflects months of hard work and, more importantly, the will of the people of Oklahoma,” Walters said. “I encouraged the board to approve this monumental decision, and now the U.S.’s first religious charter school will be welcomed by my administration. I have fought for school choice in all forms and this further empowers parents. We will make sure every Oklahoma parent has the opportunity to decide what is best for their child.”

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that states cannot discriminate against religiously affiliated schools in its school voucher programs. However, the constitutionality of charter schools run by religious institutions has not yet come up.

Church tower collapses following earthquakes in southern Peru

The tower of Purísima Concepción Church in Lari, Peru, collapsed following earthquakes in May 2023. / Credit: Municipality of Caylloma

ACI Prensa Staff, Jun 5, 2023 / 16:30 pm (CNA).

A tower at a church in southern Peru has collapsed due to a series of earthquakes there in recent days.

According to RPP Noticias, the tower, which had already suffered damage from an earthquake in 2016, is located at Purísima Concepción (Most Pure Conception) Church in the Colca Valley in the Lari district of Caylloma province in the Arequipa region.

The foundation of the church and 12 other churches are at risk of collapsing due to the condition of their infrastructure after the quakes, which ranged from 2.7 to 5.5 in magnitude.

The mayor of Caylloma, Alfonso Mamani, said it is necessary for the Ministry of Culture to intervene in order to rehabilitate and preserve all the churches that had already been damaged in the 2016 earthquake. That earthquake left more than 250 families homeless.

Although there were already projects for the restoration of the churches, new evaluations are now necessary due to the recent damage.

The mayor of the Lari district, José Panta Mamani, asked for support to rebuild the Purísima Concepción church and the houses affected by the earthquakes.

“Our reservoirs are damaged; they’ve shifted, and at any time they can collapse. I just want to strongly ask our authorities; hopefully, this time they’ll focus on these places where we have to attend to,” the mayor said.

“Otherwise, as I say, our province of Caylloma is on the way to disappearing, because there is no longer any hope for anything, because everything is damaged,” he lamented.

The epicenter of the earthquakes was in the Maca district. The earthquakes also damaged several houses in the neighboring districts of Tisco, Lari, Ichupampa, and Achoma.

Due to the emergency situation, the Provincial Municipality of Caylloma set up tents in the Maca district, where residents were able to spend the night.

Other damage included landslides on highways and in the Madrigal district.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Report: Twitter fails to block some child pornography  

Photo illustration. / Shutterstock

Denver, Colo., Jun 5, 2023 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

The social media website Twitter has apparently failed to block images of child sexual abuse, with researchers detecting several dozen known images of illegal pornographic material on the platform from March through May.

Though Twitter appeared to correct the problem, it imposed new fees for the use of an application to monitor the social media platform’s ability to block child pornography, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The Wall Street Journal’s report was based on research conducted by the Stanford Internet Observatory, which conducted a study of child protection issues across multiple social media platforms. It used a computer program to analyze a data set of about 100,000 Tweets from March 12 to May 20. The researchers found more than 40 images on Twitter flagged as CSAM (child sexual abuse material) in databases that companies use to screen content.

“This is one of the most basic things you can do to prevent CSAM online, and it did not seem to be working,” David Thiel, chief technologist at the Stanford Internet Observatory and report co-author, told the Wall Street Journal.

Thiel said it was “a surprise” to get any hits on “a small Twitter dataset.” Researchers used a digital signature analysis called PhotoDNA and their own software program to scan for the images and did not view the images themselves.

Twitter has previously said it uses PhotoDNA and other tools to detect CSAM, but it did not comment to the Wall Street Journal about whether it still uses PhotoDNA. The Stanford researchers said Twitter told them it has detected some false positives in CSAM databases that the platform’s operators manually filter out. Twitter said researchers might see false positives going forward.

The platform has touted its efforts to combat child sexual exploitation. It reported that it suspended about 404,000 accounts in the month of January for creating or engaging with material involving CSAM.

Research on Twitter involves access through an application programming interface (API). Twitter is now charging for this access, which could make analysis of Twitter unaffordable for researchers, the Wall Street Journal reported. The Stanford Internet Observatory has stopped using the enterprise-level API for Twitter because of the new costs.

The observatory, based at Stanford University, aims to study abuse of the internet in real time. Elon Musk, the owner of Twitter, in March accused the observatory of being a “propaganda machine” for its work on content moderation during the 2020 U.S. election.

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), which advocates against sexual abuse and the public harms of pornography, placed Twitter on its 2023 “Dirty Dozen” list. The list aims to spotlight major mainstream entities that facilitate, enable, or profit from sexual abuse and exploitation. The NCOSE Law Center is representing two plaintiffs whose abuser groomed the then-teenage boys into sending sexually explicit videos of themselves. Compilations of the illegal material were then posted and shared on Twitter.

Citing the technology news blog site TechDirt, the NCOSE said: “Most experts agree that Musk’s actions since purchasing Twitter have so far served to make the crime of child sexual exploitation worse.”

Carmelite nuns file new theft and defamation charges against Fort Worth Bishop Olson

Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity in Arlington, Texas. / Credit: CBS News Texas/YouTube

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 5, 2023 / 15:30 pm (CNA).

Carmelite nuns of the Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity in Arlington, Texas, filed new theft and defamation charges Friday against Bishop Michael Olson of Fort Worth.

The nuns’ new charges were filed in a district court for Tarrant County, Texas, the day after Olson dismissed the monastery’s prioress, Reverend Mother Teresa Agnes Gerlach, from religious life on the grounds that she had a sexual affair with an unnamed priest.

In a Thursday decree, Olson announced he had found Gerlach, prioress of the Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity in Arlington, “guilty of having violated the sixth commandment of the Decalogue and her vow of chastity with a priest from outside the Diocese of Fort Worth.”

The new charges levied by the monastery are in addition to a lawsuit filed on May 3 that seeks $1 million in civil damages and asks the court to block the bishop’s and the diocese’s access to any records obtained by confiscating the reverend mother’s property.

“Bishop Olson forced the Reverend Mother to turn over her computer, iPad, and cellular phone to him personally,” the charge states. 

Though the physical property has since been returned, the nuns allege that the diocese made digital copies of the information containing “private correspondence, private documents, extensive medical records,” and financial information, “including but not limited to donor lists.” 

“This is the private property of the Plaintiffs, none of which is relevant or related to the canonical investigation, which according to the Defendants has now been concluded,” the suit says. 

Additionally, the nuns claim that Olson and the diocese defamed Gerlach by voluntarily publishing “patently false and defamatory” statements about the prioress on the diocesan website. 

In turn, the diocese is arguing that the dispute is an ecclesiastical matter and should not be heard in a civil court.

The civil hearing on the case is set for June 23.

Although Olson has concluded his ecclesiastical investigation and the diocese alleges that Gerlach admitted to the misconduct, the monastery’s attorney Matthew Bobo emphatically denies that claim. 

According to Bobo, Gerlach, 43, was under the influence of pain medication related to a surgery when she is alleged to have admitted to the affair and “has not admitted to any grave misconduct that would warrant his extreme and emotionally damaging measures.”

Per Olson’s decree, Gerlach has 30 days to appeal her dismissal to the Vatican’s Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of the Apostolic Life.

Bobo has said that Gerlach intends to appeal the decision.

Who flew migrants to California and dropped them off at Diocese of Sacramento offices?

Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Sacramento, California. / Credit: Randy Miramontez/Shutterstock

Boston, Mass., Jun 5, 2023 / 15:00 pm (CNA).

California’s governor and attorney general are accusing the state of Florida of “kidnapping” a group of 16 South American migrants in Texas, flying them to Sacramento, and dropping them off in front of the Diocese of Sacramento’s headquarters.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta said the migrants were brought by private plane and had “no prior arrangement in place.”

The news comes amid a heated national debate over border security and immigration as hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants, many of whom are unaccompanied children, have crossed America’s southern border in the past year alone.

It’s unclear if the migrants, who are reportedly from Colombia and Venezuela, are asylum seekers. CNA asked California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office on Monday but did not immediately receive a response.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office has not responded to CNA’s inquiry about the accusation.

Bonta said in a Saturday statement that the 16 migrants “were in possession of documentation purporting to be from the government of the state of Florida.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, the migrants’ documentation says that the Florida Division of Emergency Management arranged the flight, Bonta told the outlet. The documents also say that the flight was a part of a Florida program to relocate migrants in Texas to other states, Bonta added.

Catholics and organizations partnered with the Diocese of Sacramento to offer services and resources to the migrants, according to Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto.

“Within each of the 16 migrants transported to Sacramento on Friday we recognize the humble presence of Jesus, and we hear his call to stand by them,” Soto said.

DeSantis made headlines last year for a similar political maneuver in which his state sent two planes carrying migrant asylum seekers in Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, in what a spokesperson for the governor told Fox News Digital was “part of the state’s relocation program to transport illegal immigrants to sanctuary destinations.”

Massachusetts is not a sanctuary state — a term typically referring to a local government’s refusal to work with federal immigration enforcement officials to deport illegal immigrants — but it does have several municipalities branding themselves as sanctuaries for migrants, although Martha’s Vineyard is not one of them, according to the Boston Herald.

The Florida governor, who is now running for president of the United States, received both heated criticism and support from public figures and legislators at the time.

An activist organization called Lawyers for Civil Rights is leading a lawsuit on behalf of the Venezuelan migrants against the Republican governor for the Martha’s Vineyard move.

DeSantis is being sued in Massachusetts federal court for allegedly violating the migrants’ Fourth Amendment rights, 14th Amendment rights, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, according to The Hill

A spokeswoman for DeSantis said at the time that the migrants were homeless and voluntarily accepted the flight to Martha’s Vineyard through a consent form, according to The Hill.

The case is still pending. 

Although Massachusetts is not a sanctuary state, California is. 

In a tweet on Monday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom called DeSantis a “small, pathetic man” adding “Kidnapping charges? Read the following.” Attached to the tweet is a photo of a California statute that includes a definition of kidnapping.

Newsom said in a statement on Saturday that he and Bonta met with the migrants in Sacramento and added that they were “transported from Texas to New Mexico before being flown by private chartered jet to Sacramento and dumped on the doorstep of a local church without any advance warning.”

The California governor said that he was working with local authorities to take care of the migrants and ensure that they “get to their intended destination as they pursue their immigration cases.”

Newsom said that he and the state’s Department of Justice are investigating who orchestrated the trip and whether the organizers broke any laws, “including kidnapping.”

Bonta said in a statement of his own that “state-sanctioned kidnapping is not a public policy choice, it is immoral and disgusting.”

Bishop Soto said that after the migrants were dropped off at the diocese, “The urgency to respond was heard by Catholics and people of goodwill.”

“We are thankful to our partner organizations who took up the holy work of hospitality, dedicating their time and resources to ensure that every migrant did not feel alone and abandoned,” he said.

Texas becomes 18th state to ban sex changes for kids

Gov. Abbott of Texas signed a law banning transgender procedures for children. / Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Jun 5, 2023 / 14:20 pm (CNA).

Texas became the 18th state in the country to prohibit doctors from performing sex changes on children after Gov. Greg Abbott signed legislation banning such procedures on Friday, June 2.

Under the new law, which will go into effect Sept. 1, neither physicians nor health care providers can perform surgeries on a minor’s genitals or breasts to facilitate a gender transition. The law also prohibits the prescription of puberty blockers, testosterone, or estrogen when used for the purpose of a gender transition.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and other groups have vowed to fight the legislation in court. 

“Abbott can’t stop trans youth from thriving in Texas — and we’ll take him to court to make sure of it,” the ACLU of Texas said in a statement on Twitter. “We are doing everything in our power to preserve access to this life-saving, evidence-based health care.”

Rep. Tom Oliverson, R-Cypress, the primary sponsor of the bill and a medical doctor, said the bill was written to withstand legal challenges.

“Children in Texas are officially protected from harmful, experimental medical and surgical treatments for gender dysphoria,” Oliverson said on Twitter. “Thank you for signing SB14 [Gov. Greg Abbott]. We knew there would be court challenges. SB14 was written with that in mind and will prevail.”

The surgeries on minors prohibited under the new law include castration, vasectomies, the removal of the uterus, the removal of ovaries, the removal of the penis, or any other procedure that would sterilize the child. The new law will also prohibit the removal of healthy female breasts or any otherwise healthy and non-diseased body part or tissue. 

Per the legislation, doctors cannot prescribe puberty blockers or any drug that is intended to stop or delay the normal process of puberty. It also prohibits prescriptions of testosterone or estrogen at levels higher than what would normally be present in the child at his or her age.

The ban only applies when the surgery or the drugs are intended to facilitate a gender transition and includes exceptions for medically necessary procedures. The law also includes exceptions for children who are born with a genetic sex development disorder and children who do not have a normal sex chromosome structure for the male or female sex.

If a child is already receiving gender transition drugs, the doctor is not required to immediately halt the prescription if it could endanger the child’s health. Rather, the doctor will be allowed to wean the child off of the drugs in a safe and medically appropriate manner. 

Medical practitioners who violate the law will have their medical licenses revoked. The law also gives the attorney general’s office the authority to step in and prevent violations if they are occurring. 

The law further prohibits any public money from being used directly or indirectly to pay for these procedures or provide these drugs to minors. It also prohibits Medicaid reimbursements for such procedures and drugs for children.

Several states that have imposed similar restrictions have been taken to court over their rules, and some are still fighting lawsuits in court. 

At the same time, a handful of other states, including Minnesota, Maryland, and California, have passed bills to ensure a legal right for minors to access these medical procedures.

Hong Kong police arrest dozens at memorials for victims of Tiananmen Square massacre

People light candles at a Tiananmen vigil at Victoria Park in Hong Kong, June 4, 2020. / Yan Zhao/AFP via Getty Images

Washington D.C., Jun 5, 2023 / 13:50 pm (CNA).

Hong Kong police apprehended almost two dozen citizens for “seditious” activity on the 34th anniversary of the Chinese communist government’s massacre of citizens at Tiananmen Square, according to the Hong Kong Free Press.

The Hong Kong Free Press reported that 11 men and 12 women, ages 20 to 74, were detained in an apparent crackdown on Tiananmen Square memorials over the weekend in Hong Kong.

According to a statement released Saturday by the Hong Kong Police Force, four individuals were arrested and four detained for “displaying protest items loaded with seditious wordings, chanting, and committing unlawful acts.”

The arrests were made near Hong Kong’s Victoria Park in Causeway Bay, where highly attended Tiananmen Square memorials have been held in years past.

The memorials recall how on June 4, 1989, the Chinese government quashed a weekslong protest of Chinese citizens by opening fire and sending tanks into Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China’s capital city. There is no official count, but death toll estimates of the massacre range from 200 to 10,000.

Tiananmen Square memorials have long been illegal in mainland China, but the crackdown in Hong Kong is a more recent development.

As a special administrative region of the Chinese government, Hong Kong formerly enjoyed relative autonomy until the Chinese Communist Party began ramping up its control of the region in recent years.

A 2019 Tiananmen Square candlelight memorial in Victoria Park, Hong Kong, drew more than 100,000 participants, according to the Guardian.

In 2020, Hong Kong passed a national security law that has been used to arrest hundreds of protestors and activists and to crack down on the press, according to the BBC.  

The following year a famous statue depicting the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre known as the “Pillar of Shame” was removed from the University of Hong Kong by officials.

This year, a section of the park where the memorial commemoration has been held was used as a festival ground while the rest of the park was closed off for “maintenance.” According to the Hong Kong Free Press, the festival is being organized by “pro-Beijing groups.”

Video footage taken Sunday shows an elderly woman holding up flowers and a man holding a copy of a play about the Tiananmen Square massacre being escorted away by police.

The woman has been identified by the Hong Kong Free Press as Alexandra Wong, 67, a Hong Kong pro-democracy activist also known as “Grandmother Wong.”

Others detained include prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy leaders Tsui Hong-kwong, Leo Tan, and Chan Po-ying.

Also among those apprehended was Lau Ka-yee, a Hong Kong citizen who formerly attended college and graduate school in Taiwan.

The National Taiwan University Graduate Students Association condemned Ka-yee’s detention, saying she had been “arbitrarily” denied her right to peacefully protest.

In response, the Hong Kong Security Bureau strongly denied the Taiwanese association’s claims, accusing it of “disregarding the facts,” “confusing right and wrong,” and “smearing the lawful actions of the police.”

In a June 5 statement, the bureau said it “strongly opposes the unfounded and false accusations made by the National Taiwan University Graduate Students Association against the police’s law enforcement actions on June 4.”

“Hong Kong residents enjoy the rights and freedoms under the Basic Law, the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance, and other relevant laws,” the bureau added. “However, members of the public must abide by the law, not affect social order, and maintain national security when exercising these freedoms.”

The U.S. and European Union consulates in Hong Kong marked the anniversary by placing candles in their windows.

The U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong issued a statement June 3, saying: “Tomorrow, we observe the 34th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. On June 4, 1989, the Government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) sent tanks into Tiananmen Square to brutally repress peaceful Chinese pro-democracy protesters and bystanders alike.”

“The victims’ bravery will not be forgotten and continues to inspire advocates for these principles around the world,” the statement continued. “The United States will continue advocating for people’s human rights and fundamental freedoms in China and around the world.”

‘National Celebrate Life Day’ rally in Washington, DC, announced for anniversary of Roe reversal

The scene outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., after the court released its decision in the Dobbs abortion case on June 24, 2022. / Katie Yoder/CNA

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 5, 2023 / 13:20 pm (CNA).

Leading pro-life organizations will hold a “National Celebrate Life Day” rally and gala in Washington, D.C., on June 24, the first anniversary of the reversal of Roe v. Wade.  

Students for Life of America (SFLA) announced the event in an April press release.

The rally will be held on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall from 10:30 a.m. to noon and will be co-hosted by SFLA, 40 Days for Life, Live Action, and Pro-Life Partners Foundation.

SFLA President Kristan Hawkins said in the release that the first anniversary of the Dobbs v. Jackson Supreme Court decision marks “both the celebration of a battle won and a moment to rally the troops for our new opportunities.” 

“We are no longer hampered by the 1973 Roe decision in light of the 2022 Dobbs ruling,” Hawkins said. “With Roe gone, we can reaffirm the obvious: Our nation was built on the hope of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all of us, including those not yet born.” 

Tina Whittington, SFLA’s executive vice president, told CNA that the rally will be “laying out a vision of where to go next in the pro-life movement: achieving national protection for preborn Americans under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.”

“We are fighting for protections for life in law at the state and federal level,” Whittington said, adding that “as long as Planned Parenthood is funded through our federal government and pro-abortionists fight for life-ending bills in Congress, there’s a fight to be had in Washington.” 

Whittington pointed out that although the 14th Amendment guarantees that no state can deprive any person of life, liberty, or equal protection under the law, abortion denies those rights to unborn children across America.

According to Whittington, thousands are planning to attend the event, which is expected to have a joyful, celebratory atmosphere marking the first full year since the decision that ended Roe v. Wade. 

“Our celebration is a reflection of a momentous day in history,” Whittington said. “We celebrate the fact that half of all states prevent abortions after 12 weeks one year after Roe’s reversal, but we’re just getting started and far more can be done at the federal level to protect innocent lives from the violence of abortion.”

Shawn Carney, president of 40 Days for Life, told CNA that because the 2022 Dobbs decision occurred on the feast of the Sacred Heart, the event will hold a special significance for Catholics.

“This event is the epitome of how Catholics in America can make history if we trust God, go to work at the grassroots, and unapologetically share the Church’s beautiful teachings on the dignity of the human person,” Carney said.

Carney added that many Catholics have been especially motivated “to charter buses to D.C. to celebrate this ruling in the midst of so much current bigotry toward Catholics we have seen from the media, corporations, and even our DOJ.”

According to Carney the rally “is not a reflection on the past” but rather “a future resolve to end abortion in our nation now that Roe has fallen.”

“Pro-life Americans don’t want to see this historic day pass without celebrating what many thought they would never live to see,” Carney said. “This event is a positive celebration of the Dobbs decision and a firm resolution to end abortion across America.” 

The rally will feature some of the country’s leading Catholic pro-life voices as speakers, including Live Action President Lila Rose, Daily Wire podcaster Michael Knowles, SFLA president Hawkins, and others. 

A ticketed National Celebrate Life Day gala will also be held in conjunction with the rally on the evening of June 24 at the Renaissance Washington, D.C. 

For more information on both the rally and gala, click here

Pope Francis to sign human fraternity document with Nobel laureates in St. Peter’s Square

St. Peter's Square in Vatican City. / Credit: Alexander_Peterson/Shutterstock

Rome Newsroom, Jun 5, 2023 / 12:20 pm (CNA).

Nobel laureates, Grammy-winner Andrea Bocelli, and several former heads of state will join Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square on Saturday night for the World Meeting on Human Fraternity.

The June 10 event, called “#Not Alone,” will culminate with Pope Francis signing a document calling for a commitment to human fraternity drafted by a dozen Nobel Peace Prize winners together with representatives of former Nobel Prize-winning organizations.

Young people representing different countries will also form “a symbolic embrace” by joining hands in a ring around St. Peter’s Square, according to the Fratelli Tutti Foundation, the sponsor of the event.

Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, the archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, described the upcoming meeting as “a great day of celebration and unity inspired by Pope Francis’ encyclical Fratelli Tutti, transcending a vision that restricts social friendship to ethnic or blood ties.”

Speaking at a Vatican press conference promoting the event, Jesuit Father Francesco Occhetta, the head of the Fratelli Tutti Foundation, noted that participants in the event “will be given as a gift a piece of organic soil and seeds to plant and germinate as a symbol of the commitment to guard fraternity.”

Nobel laureates who have confirmed their participation in the World Meeting on Human Fraternity include Iraqi human rights advocate Nadia Murad, Congolese gynecologist Denis Mukwege, and Yemeni Arab Spring leader Tawakkol Karman.

The former presidents of Colombia, Costa Rica, Poland, and Democratic Republic of East Timor — all peace prize winners — will also participate, as well as representatives of several U.N. organizations that have been past recipients.

The World Meeting on Human Fraternity will begin with private meetings of five working groups representing Nobel laureates, the poor, environmentalists, students, and associations.

At 4 p.m. local time, Italian TV presenter Carlo Conti, the former host of Italy’s national Eurovision competition, will kick off an Italian television broadcast of the World Meeting on Human Fraternity event in St. Peter’s Square with performances by Bocelli and other Italian musical artists. 

Pope Francis will join the event two hours later to listen to what emerged in the working group discussions, sign the human fraternity document, and join the symbolic embrace. Later, circus performers and street artists will take to the stage in St. Peter’s Square to perform until 10 p.m.

Town squares in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Jerusalem; Nagasaki, Japan; Brazzaville, Republic of Congo; and four other locations in the world will connect live to St. Peter’s Square for the event.

The following is a list of Nobel laureates and Nobel laureate representatives who will participate in the World Meeting on Human Fraternity, according to the Vatican:

Juan Manuel Santos, president of the Republic of Colombia from 2010 to 2018 (Colombia): Nobel Peace Prize in 2016 for his resolute commitment to ending the civil war that has affected his country for 50 years.

Oscar Arias Sánchez, president of the Republic of Costa Rica from 1986 to 1990 and from 2006 to 2010 (Costa Rica): Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1987 for his efforts in promoting peace and stability in Central America, in particular for his efforts to end conflicts in the region and promote dialogue and cooperation between countries.

Lech Wałęsa, president of the Republic of Poland from 1990 to 1995 (Poland): Nobel Peace Prize in 1983 for his nonviolent struggle for human rights and free trade unions in Poland. As leader of the Solidarność trade union, he played a key role in the rights of workers and in the promotion of democracy in his country.

José Ramos-Horta, president of the Democratic Republic of East Timor (East Timor): Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1996 for his work in favor of a just and peaceful solution to the conflict in East Timor. 

Jody Williams, founder of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and president of the Nobel Women’s Initiative (United States): Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1997 for work on banning and clearing landmines.

Shirin Ebadi, president of the Defenders for Human Rights Centre (Iran): Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her commitment to the defense of democracy, human rights, and especially women and children in Iran.

Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank (Bengals): Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his work in promoting economic and social development through the concept of microcredit. Through the Grameen Bank, he provided affordable finance to the poor and helped improve their living conditions.

Leymah Roberta Gbowee, president of Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa (Liberia): Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2011. As a leader of the Liberian women’s movement, she played a vital role in ending the civil war and promoting reconciliation in her country.

Tawakkol Karman, leader of the Arab Spring (Yemen): Nobel Peace Prize in 2011. As a journalist and activist, he defended human rights, democracy, and freedom of expression in his country. 

Denis Mukwege, gynecologist (Democratic Republic of Congo): Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2018 for providing medical care and support to women victims of sexual violence in times of war and armed conflict.

Nadia Murad Basee Taha, president and co-founder of Nadia’s Initiative (Iraq): Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2018 for her efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.

Giorgio Parisi, vice president of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (Italy): Nobel Prize in Physics in 2021 for the discovery of the interaction between disorder and fluctuations in physical systems, from the atomic to the planetary scale.

Maria Angelita Ressa, president of Rappler Inc. (Philippines): Nobel Peace Prize in 2021 for efforts to safeguard freedom of expression.

International Peace Bureau (IPB): Organization Nobel Peace Prize in 1910 for liaising between the peace societies of various countries and helping them organize world meetings of the international peace movement. Represented by Philip James Jennings, president.

American Friends Service Committee (AFSC): Organization Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1947 for its pioneering work in the international peace movement and compassionate effort to alleviate human suffering, thereby promoting brotherhood among nations. Represented by Hector Manuel Cortez, deputy secretary general.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR): Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the organization in 1954 and 1981 for its commitment to heal the wounds of war by providing aid and protection to refugees from all over the world and for the promotion of the fundamental rights of refugees. Represented by Filippo Grandi, high commissioner.

United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF): Organization Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1965 for its commitment to strengthening solidarity between nations and narrowing the gap between rich and poor states. The organization is dedicated to promoting and advocating for the rights of children, working to improve their health, education, and well-being around the world. Represented by Bo Viktor Nylund, special representative.

International Labour Organization (ILO): Nobel Peace Prize Organization in 1969 for having created international legislation that ensures certain standards for working conditions in each country. Represented by Gianni Rosas, ILO office director for Italy and San Marino.

International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW): 1985 Nobel Peace Prize-winning organization to disseminate authoritative information and create awareness of the catastrophic consequences of a nuclear war. Represented by Kati Riitta Maria Juva, co-president, and Onazi David, co-chair.

Peace Operations, United Nations Peacekeeping Forces: Nobel Peace Prize Organization in 1988. Its mission is to prevent armed clashes and create the conditions for negotiations between countries in conflict. Represented by Aroldo Lazaro Saenz.

Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs: Organization awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995 for its efforts to diminish the role of nuclear weapons in international politics and, in the long term, for the elimination of nuclear weapons. Represented by Paolo Cotta Ramusino, general secretary.

International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL): Organization awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for its work in banning and clearing landmines. Represented by Tun Channareth, ICBL world ambassador, and Denise Coghlan, RSM, member of the board of directors.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA): Organization awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 for its efforts to prevent the use of nuclear energy for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used as safely as possible. Represented by Jacek Andrzej Bylica, IAEA chief of staff.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): Organization awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for its efforts to build and disseminate greater knowledge of man-made climate change and to lay the foundations for the measures necessary to counter them. Represented by Hoesung Lee, president.

Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW): Organization Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2013 for efforts to eliminate chemical weapons. Represented by Odette Melon, vice general manager.

International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN): Nobel Peace Prize-winning organization for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and its pioneering efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons. Represented by Daniel Högsta, interim executive director.

Center for Civil Liberties: Nobel Peace Prize Organization in 2022. It has been promoting the right of expression and fundamental rights of citizens for many years. It worked hard to document war crimes, violence, and abuses of power. With its work, it demonstrates the importance of civil society for peace and democracy. Represented by Oleksandra Matvijchuk.

United Nations: Nobel Peace Prize Organization in 2001 for its work for a more inclusive and peaceful world. Represented by Miguel Angel Moratinos, undersecretary-general of the United Nations, who contributed to the creation and launch of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) in 2005 and since 2019 has held the position of high representative of the UNAOC.

Oley Back Road, representing Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2011 for her nonviolent fight for women’s safety and their right to full participation in peacebuilding.