Nigel Baker » Ambassador to the Holy See

Global networks


This is a networked world. And yet there are few genuinely global networks out there. By that I mean networks that have a capacity to operate globally, co-ordinated centrally but operating in capillary fashion, horizontally in a radial pattern as well as vertically in a hub and spoke model. One of the reasons why we have an embassy to the Holy See is because the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), and … Read more »Global networks

Helsinki forty years on


Confrontation across ideological fault lines. Division in Europe. Pessimism about international affairs. You might think I am referring to today’s international situation. But in fact I would like you to cast your mind back forty years to 1975 and the Cold War. Under the cloud of mutually assured destruction, Europe and the wider world needed hope. An event in Helsinki on 1 August 1975, in which the UK and the … Read more »Helsinki forty years on

The Church and Magna Carta

©The British Library

On 15 June we celebrated the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. It is extraordinary how a document agreed in 1215 between a medieval English king and his leading subjects continues to resonate down the ages, wherever people believe in the rule of law. I recently wrote an article trying to set Magna Carta in its proper historical context. But it is also worth remembering the words of one Chief Justice, that … Read more »The Church and Magna Carta

Expo 2015: UK and Holy See make a buzz


It was Holy See day this week at Expo 2015 in Milan. Expo is like a world fair, with this year 145 countries represented including 53 national pavilions (the Holy See has one) based around the theme “Feeding the Planet: Energy for Life”. Reminding us that “man does not live by bread alone”, the Holy See took an imaginative line, emphasising the family table as a place of human encounter … Read more »Expo 2015: UK and Holy See make a buzz

Helping Christians in Iraq

mons. warda

One of the benefits of being accredited to the Holy See is the possibility of listening and speaking to people from across the global Catholic Church who visit Rome to do business at the Vatican. This is useful for the UK, because I can often glean information not available elsewhere in our foreign policy network, which in turn improves our understanding of – and opens up possibilities for cooperation on … Read more »Helping Christians in Iraq

‘Excellence’ in Holy See communications


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


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


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