The global influence of the Holy See's network

In a lecture in Glasgow, the British Ambassador to the Holy See has shared his vision of the Church in the world under the first Jesuit Pope. Nigel Baker was delivering the second in the 2014 series of Gonzaga Lectures at St Aloysius College. In it, he described the Holy See as “a global organization led by an evangelizing missionary with tremendous clout beyond the confines of the Church” and he went on to address what the focus of Holy See diplomacy is.

Mr Baker took as his point of reference the Papal address to the diplomatic corps on 22 March 2013, in which Pope Francis focused on four key objectives in the Holy See’s international relations: “The four ‘Ps’ - Poverty, Peace, People and the Planet - are quite a useful aide memoire,” he said, before going on to examine how that ‘mission statement’ has been put into practice over the last year by the Pope and the global Holy See network.

In the area of poverty, the vulnerable and the marginalised, Pope Francis’ most striking intervention since his election last March has been in the area of human trafficking, according to the Ambassador. At the instigation of the Pontiff, civil authorities, law enforcement agencies and religious leaders from around 20 countries, including the United Kingdom, are being brought together to hammer out practical ways in which religious networks and police forces can work together better, more effectively, and in a way that focuses on supporting the ‘victim’, against human trafficking. “It is a striking example of the Holy See network striving to make society more humane and just,” said Mr Baker.

The impact of the day of prayer for peace in Syria – called for by Pope Francis on 7 September 2013 – was extraordinarily powerful, Mr Baker went on. In addressing “fellow Christians, followers of other religions, and all men of good will” and combining it with discussions with politicians and diplomats including the US Secretary of State and President Putin, “the Holy See’s policy towards the conflict has been clear, consistent and coherent with Pope Francis’s message to diplomats of March 2013,” he said.

The objective of Caritas Internationalis – to eradicate hunger by 2025 – is a campaign that is very much in line with Pope Francis’ commitment to the protection of creation, Mr Baker told the assembly in Glasgow. “The objective is ambitious. What we are seeing is the Holy See mobilising the Papal voice and the reach of the Caritas network to reinforce its voice in the corridors of the UN and make an impact on an issue of paramount importance to human civilisation.”

The British Ambassador to the Holy concluded that, in addition to the four P’s of the Holy See’s ‘mission statement’, the personality and background of Pope himself have influenced the past 12 months. “The personal character and beliefs of the Pope himself, imbued as they are by his understanding of the Gospel and Catholic Church teaching, his evangelising mission to the universal human family, and especially by his Jesuit formation, are significant and essential elements in the Holy See’s outreach to the world,” Mr Baker said.

To read the full Gonzaga Lecture as delivered by Mr Nigel Baker at St Aloysius College, Glasgow, go to  http://ow.ly/uHpIB