05 March 2015, The Tablet

UK ambassador says Pope Francis is making governments take notice

Pope Francis is making governments around the world “sit up and take notice” thanks to the huge global impact of his pronouncements on social and economic behaviour, according to the British Ambassador to the Holy See.

Nigel Baker added that the “challenging” Pope speaks over the heads of the powerful to the powerless, reminding them of what they should expect from their governments.

Delivering the Bishop Dunn Memorial Lecture at Ushaw College, University of Durham, on Wednesday, Mr Baker was expected to say: “Given Pope Francis’ huge global impact, governments have to sit up and take notice. This is a Pope who knows he has a platform from which to address a worldwide audience, and intends to use it. That’s the novelty, and the challenge. Here is a world leader setting out moral principles of social and economic behaviour that he expects us to take seriously, and will continue to repeat until we do.”

The diplomat cited, for example, the Pope’s 18 million followers on Twitter.

Mr Baker also referred to the call in Francis’ apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium for “generous solidarity and to the return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favours human beings”.

“As a diplomat, that is something that requires me to listen,” said Mr Baker. “The Pope is talking to me, and my government, too.”

In the lecture, titled “The Challenge of Pope Francis: A diplomatic perspective”, Mr Baker said: “This is a Pope happier lobbing brickbats [rather] than bouquets, especially towards the complacent, the comfortable and the well off … Pope Francis sees it as his responsibility to speak over the heads of the powerful to the powerless, to remind them of their rights and what they should expect from government. He is recalling that it is their duty and their right to hold governments to account.”

Read the full text of the speech here.

  Loading ...
Get Instant Access
Subscribe to The Tablet for just £7.99

Subscribe today to take advantage of our introductory offers and enjoy 30 days' access for just £7.99