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Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Pope Benedict welcomes new British ambassador to Holy See
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¬†The first Roman Catholic to be appointed British ambassador since the Reformation presented his credentials to Pope Benedict XVI on Friday 23 December, stressing the importance of inter-religious dialogue. In a speech welcoming Campbell to the Holy See, Pope Benedict spoke of the importance of links between Great Britain and the Holy See, praised the Northern Irish peace process, and spoke of the importance of ecumenism and interfaith understanding. Francis Campbell, 35, has previously served as an adviser to the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and is Britain's youngest ambassador. When Campbell's appointment was announced in November, the Archbishop of Westminster described it as "imaginative" and said it had put to an end the notion that the post was reserved to non-Catholics. Relations between the UK and the Holy See were restored in 1914 after a break of 350 years. An apostolic delegate ≠ nowadays a 'papal nuncio' ≠ was appointed in 1938 to represent the Holy See to Great Britain. Full diplomatic relations were restored in 1982 prior to Pope John Paul II's visit to the UK. Ever since a Foreign Office memo in 1917 which said Britain's Vatican representative "should not be filled with an unreasoning awe of the Pope", the British representative has been a Protestant, with a Catholic as deputy. This continued after 1982, when the post was raised to ambassadorial status. The Foreign Office made clear recently, however, that there was no bar to a Catholic taking the post. The Holy See is the seat of government of the Catholic Church. Although the state in which it resides, Vatican City, is the world's smallest, the Holy See is the hub of a global network of a billion people which leading nations regard as vital to world diplomacy. To read texts of the addresses by Francis Campbell, the Holy Father and Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor visit:
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