Nigel Baker » Ambassador to the Holy See


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


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


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!”


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


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

Spiritual retreats and daily business

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This week, the Pope and the senior members of the Roman Curia are away on spiritual retreat. There are not many governments that take all their senior members away from the fray of the day-to-day for a whole week of reflection, and even here the Blackberries and smart-phones may not be entirely switched off. But I think it is good practice. In this world dominated by a 24 hour news … Read more »Spiritual retreats and daily business



Most of the world’s population lives in countries where freedom of religion or belief is restricted in some way, and over a third where such limitations are extreme. Some 60 countries retain on their statute books laws against blasphemy, or apostasy, with often draconian punishments for those who transgress. And yet, as long ago as 1948, Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights established that: “Everyone has the … Read more »#freedomtobelieve

Clerical child sex abuse: making progress but not there yet


The issue of sex abuse of children by priests has accompanied me throughout my mission here since I arrived in Rome in August 2011. As I was preparing to take up the role, it was clear to me that nothing had done more in recent years to damage the credibility of the Holy See, and to undermine its values-based message, in the UK and elsewhere, than its failure to understand … Read more »Clerical child sex abuse: making progress but not there yet