Nigel Baker » Ambassador to the Holy See

‘Excellence’ in Holy See communications

LordPatten

Amongst the various reforms underway at the Vatican, one that has generated considerable interest is the reform of Holy See communications. There had for many years been criticism of a lack of coordination and high levels of duplication in Holy See communications. The last decade had also seen a number of avoidable communications errors that better practices and structures might have prevented. More particularly, as a man focused on the … Read more »‘Excellence’ in Holy See communications

Church, government, business: a climate change alliance

NewClimate

This week I attended an important conference at the Pontifical Santa Croce University, on “The New Climate Economy. How Economic Growth and Sustainability Can Go Hand in Hand”. It was jointly organised by the Dutch Embassy to the Holy See and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and brought together leading political figures, business people, diplomats and churchmen to address the question of climate change and economic growth ahead … Read more »Church, government, business: a climate change alliance

Ecumenists and Diplomats

The Archbishop of Canterbury meets Birmingham Faith Leaders' Group (February 2015). Photo: credit: Richard Shepherd

Amongst the Vasari frescoes In the Sala Regia in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican is a series to make ecumenists blanche. It depicts the planning and implementation of the St Bartholomew’s Eve Massacre – the massacre in Paris on 23-24 August 1572, ordered by the King of France, of thousands of French Huguenot Protestants. In addition to commissioning the frescoes in celebration, Pope Gregory XIII ordered a Te Deum … Read more »Ecumenists and Diplomats

Remembrance

VE Day Celebrations in London, 8 May 1945

It is rather poignant that the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day – 8 May 1945, the day that World War II in Europe officially ended – falls the day after the British General Election. It reminds us of the fundamental reason why Britain went to war in 1939, reluctantly but determinedly; to keep the world safe for democracy. Neither the celebration then nor the commemoration today echo … Read more »Remembrance

Britain and the Vatican Art Collection

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The Holy See’s decision to take part in the Venice Biennale, after its inaugural participation in 2013, reminds us of the extraordinary role played by the Popes in the history and production of art. For much of its history, the Holy See was an undoubted centre of connoisseurship, patronage and artistic endeavour. It is impossible for example, to think of the great artists and architects of the 16th and 17th … Read more »Britain and the Vatican Art Collection

Nuns, the Church and Society

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Stereotypical images tend to come to mind, at least the non-Catholic British mind, when we think of nuns. We think of Julie Andrews and The Sound of Music. Perhaps Sister Wendy Beckett delivering art lectures. We might just stretch to Mother Teresa in the slums of Calcutta. Like most stereotypes, such images are both unhelpful and out-dated. The OED definition of the word is “Woman living in a convent usually … Read more »Nuns, the Church and Society

Happy Easter

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You won’t be surprised to hear that Easter is a busy time of year at the Holy See.  The Pope has a full schedule of engagements that take him through the solemnities of Holy Week to the great festivity of Easter Sunday and the Easter period beyond. Pope Francis will be applying his own particular touches to the week, with his visit to the high security prison at Rebibbia outside … Read more »Happy Easter

“Corruption stinks!”

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Pope Francis is a powerful campaigner against corruption; the exploitation by the powerful of the vulnerable, the poor and the weak. He returned to this theme again on his recent visit to Naples, a city blighted by the corrupting influence of organised crime. “Corruption stinks”, he said, “corrupt society stinks and a Christian who lets corruption into his soul is no Christian”. He was also clear that it is up … Read more »“Corruption stinks!”

Two years of Pope Francis

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With some surprise, I have just woken up to the fact that we are celebrating two years since the election of Pope Francis, the first Pope from the New World. It is a cliché, but it really does seem just the other day that I – along with everyone else – was waiting for the white smoke to emerge from the chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel , … Read more »Two years of Pope Francis

The Challenge of Pope Francis

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Pope Francis has caught the global imagination. That is one of the reasons for his global impact. There are few world leaders who speak to humanity, across territorial and cultural boundaries, in the same way. It provides the Pope with a global pulpit that enables him to reach out to people of all faiths, creeds and backgrounds. All modern Popes have understood this global role of their office, and borne … Read more »The Challenge of Pope Francis