Nigel Baker

Nigel Baker

Ambassador to the Holy See (2011-2016)

Part of UK in Holy See

4th December 2014

Britain and the Holy See stand together in defence of justice

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Mass to celebrate the Centenary of the re-establishment of UK-Holy See diplomatic relations, 3 December 2014

In his homily at our celebration at St Paul’s outside the Walls of the centenary of the restoration of official UK-Holy See diplomatic relations in 1914, The Cardinal Secretary of State, Cardinal Parolin, praised how the United Kingdom and the Holy See “have worked together for justice and peace” over many years. He also set down a challenge. “We want”, he said, “ to reinforce and extend this cooperation for the good of all”.  So does the United Kingdom, and the week of our centenary celebrations has also seen substantial examples of this cooperation in action.

The Minister of State at the Foreign Office, Baroness Anelay, led a delegation to the Holy See that included Baroness Berridge, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on International Religious Freedom. During their meetings at the Holy See, their focus was on ways in which we can work together to strengthen religious freedom around the world, “a top human rights priority” for UK government. Baroness Anelay spoke at the recent launch in London by Aid to the Church in Need of their latest report on religious freedom and had the opportunity to talk with Holy See officials, representatives of Catholic civil society and senior members of religious congregations about how we might better collaborate in protecting the rights of people around the world to worship, believe and demonstrate their faith freely, with the situation of Christians in the Middle East a particular priority.

Another priority for the visit was to address the issue of human trafficking. Baroness Anelay was able to meet the key players in the initiative led by the Vatican-based Global Freedom Network (GFN) to secure a joint declaration and commitment to work against modern slavery from global religious leaders: Buddhist, Shia and Sunni Muslim, and Hindu, alongside the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Ecumenical Patriarch. She was able to hear about the next steps, and how the work of religious leaders would complement the UK’s Modern Slavery bill currently in its last stages before it becomes law, something that Archbishop Welby said would be a “good model” for other governments in the future. Another participant at the GFN event was the UK’s first ever Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Kevin Hyland, who is involved in the second international conference of the Santa Marta Group, hosted by the Home Secretary, the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, and the Metropolitan Police Service.

Cardinal Parolin told Vatican Radio that “conflict prevention and resolution, in the defence of human rights and in the fight against poverty” should be at the top of our bilateral agenda. There is already a lot of substance to our work together, bilaterally at official level, but also across our broader networks of faith, civil society, NGOs and parliament. But as Baroness Anelay asked all her interlocutors, “how can we do even more?”. That’s the challenge for this embassy to take on.

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1 comment on “Britain and the Holy See stand together in defence of justice

  1. Don’t forget combating money laundering. “The love of money is the root of all evil.”
    Thanks, again, for the blog!

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About Nigel Baker

Nigel was British Ambassador to the Holy See from 2011-2016. He presented his Credentials to Pope Benedict XVI on 9 September 2011, after serving 8 years in Latin America, as…

Nigel was British Ambassador to the Holy See from 2011-2016. He presented his Credentials to Pope Benedict XVI on 9 September 2011, after serving 8 years in Latin America, as Deputy Head of Mission in the British Embassy in Havana, Cuba (2003-6) and then as British Ambassador in La Paz, Bolivia (2007-11). In July 2016, Nigel finished his posting, and is currently back in London.

As the first British Ambassador to the Holy See ever to have a blog, Nigel provided a regular window on what the Embassy and the Ambassador does. The blogs covered a wide range of issues, from Royal and Ministerial visits to Diplomacy and Faith, freedom of religion, human trafficking and climate change.

More on Nigel’s career

Nigel was based in London between 1998 and 2003. He spent two years on European Union issues (for the UK 1998 EU Presidency and on European Security and Defence questions), before crossing St James’s Park to work for three years as The Assistant Private Secretary to His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. At St James’s Palace, Nigel worked on international issues, including the management of The Prince of Wales’s overseas visits and tours, on the Commonwealth, interfaith issues, the arts and international development.

Nigel spent much of the early part of his FCO career in Central Europe, after an initial stint as Desk Officer for the Maghreb countries in the Near East and North Africa department (1990-91). Between 1992 and 1996, Nigel served in the British embassies in Prague and Bratislava, the latter being created in 1993 after the peaceful division of Czechoslovakia into the separate Czech and Slovak Republics.

Nigel joined the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) in September 1989. Between 1996 and 1998 he took a two year academic sabbatical to research and write about themes in 18th century European history, being based in Verona but also researching in Cambridge, Paris and Naples. The research followed from Nigel’s time as a student at Cambridge (1985-88) where he read history and was awarded a First Class Honours degree, followed by his MA in 1992.

Before joining the Foreign Office, Nigel worked briefly for the Conservative Research Department in London at the time of the 1989 European election campaign.

Nigel married Alexandra (Sasha) in 1997. They have one son, Benjamin, born in Bolivia in September 2008.

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