By Devin Watkins
“The Holy See’s diplomacy focuses on conflicts that are often forgotten.”
Sally Axworthy, Britain’s Ambassador to the Holy See, provided that assessment of the Vatican’s global diplomatic efforts, in an interview with Vatican News.
Ambassador Axworthy was referring to Pope Francis’ annual “State of the World Address”, delivered on January 7th to members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See.
In that speech, the Pope recalled several ongoing conflicts, which are rarely mentioned in the international news cycle, and expressed his closeness to the people living through them.
Ambassador Axworthy noted his mention “of those countries that suffer from fundamentalist terrorism but don’t often feature in our press that much, like Mali, Niger, Nigeria”.
She also appreciated the Pope’s concern for “places like Cameroon, a country that is suffering quite considerably at the moment but doesn’t get much international attention.”
According to the Ambassador, this indicates the extent to which Holy See diplomacy is concerned, wherever it takes place.
Legacy of peace
Regarding Europe, Ambassador Axworthy said Pope Francis recalled the “legacy of peace after the Second World War.”
Near the end of his speech, the Pope encouraged European countries to avoid the temptation to erect new curtains.
“May Europe not lose its awareness of the benefits – the first of which is peace – ushered in by the journey of friendship and rapprochement between peoples begun in the postwar period,” said Pope Francis.
Ambassador Axworthy said the Pope’s speech to the Diplomatic Corps set out “his view of how international politics should operate”.
The Holy Father focused his remarks on four areas of multilateral diplomacy: the primacy of justice and law; the defense of the most vulnerable; to be a bridge between peoples and builders of peace; and, rethinking our common destiny.
“He’s really talking about his view of international politics on a grand scale, although there’s lots in the speech that brings it down to very particular cases,” Ambassador Axworthy said.