Britain’s ambassador to the Holy See has welcomed Pope Francis’ words to the diplomatic corps, saying that Monday’s speech offers a practical “prescription” for peacemaking around the globe.
Ambassador Sally Axworthy officially took up her post last September as Britain’s new representative to the Vatican, one of the 182 nations which enjoy full diplomatic relations with the Holy See.
The ambassador notes that the Pope has spoken about global peace and
security many times before but in this speech “he takes some of those
themes a little further”.
An example, she says, is his words about
ending conflicts through negotiations, adding that she understands his
focus on non-violence to mean that the Holy See “advocates resolving
conflicts through negotiations, which I think the UK would strongly
While the Pope’s words “can seem quite abstract”, Ambassador Axworthy
says she also believes that his speech was highlighting some practical
contributions to peacemaking. She mentions his words about the role of
religion in tackling terrorism and the need for religious and political
leaders to work together.
Call for practical collaboration
She also notes the Pope’s words on Cuba and Colombia where the Holy
See played a decisive role in conflict resolution and she welcomes the
Pope’s invitation that the Holy See and Secretariat of State are “open
for collaboration”, describing it as a bit of a “signpost that maybe
they’re thinking more practically about what they can do”.
Co-operation with religious leaders
Asked about the UK government’s willingness to collaborate with
religious leaders, she says there is a good relationship with the
Archbishop of Canterbury and others leaders too. She says they play “a
valuable part” in British society, which the government recognizes,
adding that it is “very open” to exploring how it can work more with
religious leaders, especially in conflict resolution.
Holistic approach to migration
Commenting on the Pope’s words about migration, Ambassador Axworthy
says her government “welcomes genuine refugees”, and has taken “some of
the most vulnerable refugees from Syria”, as well as a large number of
children from the camps near Calais.
She says she was struck by
similarities between what the Pope said and what her government has been
saying on the need for people to have opportunities, jobs and
development in their home countries.
The British government, she notes,
has put a lot of money – some four billion pounds last year - into aid
in Africa, as well as maintaining its commitment to spend 0.7 percent of
GDP on humanitarian aid, emphasizing what she calls “a holistic
approach to migration”
Shared European values
Asked about the Pope’s words on European unification as “a unique
opportunity for stability, peace and solidarity”, the ambassador notes
that he continues by stressing that the values which inspired the EU
project are “values common to the entire continent and transcend the
border of the EU itself”.
The UK government, she stresses, “has said
repeatedly we’re not leaving Europe, we’re leaving the EU” so will
maintain close ties and shared values with the rest of the continent.
The Pope’s speech, Ambassador Axworthy concludes, “almost gives us as
bit of a prescription” for peacebuilding, adding that she sees “some
scenes on which we can work with the Holy See” in attempting to resolve
conflicts in places where the Vatican has significant influence.