Nigel Baker » Ambassador to the Holy See

The case for freedom of religion or belief


The question of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB in the international jargon) is a challenging and sensitive one. It is a fundamental right, touching the conscience of the individual, underpinning many other rights. As we focus on the issue of equality on Blog Action Day, we must ensure that FoRB remains at the top of our agenda. It is all the more important because, globally, even simple tolerance of … Read more »The case for freedom of religion or belief

Contributing to Caritas

Cardinal Rodriguez with Syrian refugee

Caritas Internationalis (CI) is the official humanitarian and development agency of the global Catholic Church. Created in the 1950s under papal guidance, it was described recently by Pope Francis as “an essential part of the Church”. It now has over 160 member organisations operating in 200 countries and territories around the globe, including CAFOD in England, SCIAF in Scotland and Trocaire in Ireland. Last weekend, I had the privilege of … Read more »Contributing to Caritas

The Holy See and the Commonwealth

Flags of the Commonwealth flying in Horse Guards, London. Commonwealth Day 2014

The Commonwealth and the Holy See represent the two largest soft power networks in the world today. The Commonwealth with its 53 countries, 2.2bn citizens, and common values as expressed in its Charter focused on democracy, equitable economic development, good governance, young people, human rights, and social progress. The Holy See as the central governance of a global Catholic network of 1.2 billion people, its work based on the values of … Read more »The Holy See and the Commonwealth

Christian unity and good causes: small steps, big results


As ambassador to the Holy See, it is quite rare that I get out of Rome for professional purposes. Most of the key contacts and institutions with which the embassy works are, naturally, based in Rome. Although I plug into the global Holy See network, I do that through the hub. So I have had a few quite unusual days, albeit at the service of some key embassy objectives. Last … Read more »Christian unity and good causes: small steps, big results

The Church as a global player


The bishops in the US and health care reform. The leading role played by the Catholic Church in tackling corruption in the Philippines. Caritas Internationalis responding in a practical way to the rise in suicides amongst Indian farmers. Catholic radio and censorship in South Sudan. The response of the Eastern Church Patriarchs to ISIL. Using these examples in a recent article, the US Vatican commentator John Allen justified the launch … Read more »The Church as a global player

Responding to ISIL

photo avec S.B. le Cardinal Béchara RAÏ

There has, rightly, been enormous concern expressed across the world about the recent turn of events in Northern Iraq. The expulsion of the Christian communities from Mosul and the 13 villages of the Plain of Nineveh – an historic heartland inhabited by Christians from the earliest days, well known from, amongst other sources, the story of Jonah – was a wake-up call. The brutalities committed by the Islamic State of … Read more »Responding to ISIL

All in the family

Feature image for:  All in the family

As we look forward to the “new term” at the Vatican and at Westminster, it seems that the buzzword this autumn will be “family”. There is always a great deal of public discussion about the future of the family. Quite rightly, in my view, as it is arguably the most important social institution underpinning our civilisation. There is also very often a great deal of angst, as commentators compete to … Read more »All in the family

Death to the Death Penalty?


The following is a guest blog by Steve Townsend, Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy to the Holy See On 13 August 1964, Peter Allen and Gwynne Evans made British judicial history, although not in a way they would have appreciated. They were the last people executed in the United Kingdom. Throughout the 1960s there was growing support in the British Parliament for the abolition of capital punishment, and it … Read more »Death to the Death Penalty?

Pope Francis to visit South Korea


The following is a guest blog by Steve Townsend, Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy to the Holy See On 14-18 August Pope Francis will make his first visit to Asia, to attend the Asian Youth Day in Daejon, South Korea. He will also beatify 124 martyrs, killed in the eighteenth century for adopting Christianity. The visit will give Pope Francis the opportunity to preach his messages to … Read more »Pope Francis to visit South Korea

Human trafficking: responding to the Pope’s appeal

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In my last blog posting on the concept of “the common good”, I noted that the Archbishop of Canterbury had included UK efforts to tackle human trafficking as one of three specific areas in which, in his view, Her Majesty’s Government was working for the common good. 30 July is the UN World Day against Trafficking in Persons. To mark the event, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the Vatican-based Global … Read more »Human trafficking: responding to the Pope’s appeal