21/09/2011 1:00 pm
In today's podcast, we speak to His Excellency Nigel Baker, the new UK Ambassador to the Holy See. Ambassador Baker was appointed back in April and, just two weeks ago, presented his credentials to Pope Benedict XVI at the Holy Father's summer residence Castel Gandolfo.
In this extended interview, we discuss the challenges ahead, areas where the UK and the Holy See can work together, the importance of dialogue and why he's decided to become the first UK Ambassador to the Holy See with a blog.
"One is focusing together on what I call existential issues, issues that make a difference to humanity on this planet. There's the whole question of climate change and the environment... The second of the existential threats I wanted to focus on was disarmament. The Holy See and Her Majesty’s government have worked very closely, particularly in the slow progress towards an arms trade treaty."
"The second area of working is working together to improve levels of dialogue between governments, between faiths. Particularly focused on the broad field of rights. Now I’m thinking particularly of freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom from violence. Issues that are right at the top of current world events...
"These are issues that are of great interest to Her Majesty’s government. The Secretary of State, William Hague, has spoken of the importance of values in foreign policy, of an ethical dimension to foreign policy - how we can apply tolerance, compassion, understanding of others to our foreign policies."
"The third area is helping to reduce poverty and disease in the world. [Development] means education, it means sanitation, it means healthcare, it means providing opportunities for people in Africa, in Asia, in the developing world. DFID has enormous programmes... His Holiness Pope Benedict said to me very clearly when I met him they want to work with us on this because there’s so much we can do on the ground. There's this extraordinary network of Catholic agencies, Catholic charities. DFID is engaged in many countries in the world. We can find ways to work together and there’s a great interest in Her Majesty’s government to do so."
Blogging and New Media
"My blog, which I’ve just begun at the Holy See, is in English, aimed at anybody interested in the functioning of the Holy See and in the functions of diplomacy. People often say ‘what does the Ambassador to the Holy See do?’, ‘why do we have an Ambassador there?’ This is one means of getting that message out and helping people just to tap in...
"The Holy See’s approach to the New Media has moved forward in leaps and bounds over the last year or two: websites, tweets from the Holy Father, blogs, and meetings of bloggers in Rome. So I think it’s incumbent upon embassies accredited to the Holy See to keep up with that, and engage with that in an intelligent way."
Duration: 16m 17s
Images on the UK Embassy's Flickr stream