Queen's visit to Ireland was an important milestone, says Pope


POPE BENEDICT XVI yesterday spoke of the “success” of the visit to Ireland this spring by Queen Elizabeth. The Pope made his remarks in an address to the new British ambassador to the Holy See, Nigel Baker, who formally presented his diplomatic credentials in the Vatican yesterday.

Underlining how the Holy See and Britain share a “common concern for peace among nations”, the Pope added: “On the subject of peace, I was very pleased to note the success of Her Majesty’s recent visit to the Republic of Ireland, an important milestone in the process of reconciliation that is happily becoming ever more firmly established in Northern Ireland, despite the unrest which occurred there during this past summer.”

Underlining the “excellent relations” that have marked the last 30 years since the Holy See and the United Kingdom established full diplomatic relations, the Pope also highlighted the success of his visit to the UK last autumn, saying: “The close bond between us was further strengthened last year during my visit to your country, a unique occasion in the course of the shared history of the Holy See and the countries which today compose the United Kingdom.”

Speaking of the highpoint of that visit, the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, the Pope once again expressed his admiration for Newman, adding that “Newman’s insights regarding society” remain relevant today.

Acknowledging the British government’s wish “to employ policies that are based on enduring values”, the Pope then referred to last month’s riots in London, saying: “This is especially important in the light of events in England this summer. When policies do not presume or promote objective values, the resulting moral relativism, instead of leading to a society that is free, fair, just and compassionate, tends instead to produce frustration, despair, selfishness and a disregard for the life and liberty of others.”

Addressing the Pope, the ambassador touched on many of the same themes, saying he looked forward to “the challenge of deepening our engagement across the many issues on which we work together.

Mr Baker replaces Co Down-born Francis Campbell, UK ambassador to the Holy See from 2005 to 2011, who is now British deputy high commissioner in Pakistan.