15 May 2009

Bishop of Rochester visits society

From The Church Times

Pope could help, says Nazir-Ali
by Bill Bowder

THE Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, who resigns on 1 Septem­ber, spoke last week of the part the Roman Catholic Church might play in healing splits in the Anglican Com­munion (News, 3 April).

The Pope could still provide a focus of unity for the Anglican Church, he said, speaking after an ad­dress to the Newman Society in Oxford on Friday. “To some extent it depends on how the Bishop of Rome and other Vatican officers behave.”

Dr Nazir-Ali (above) is a former member of the Anglican-Roman Catho­lic International Commission (ARCIC). The Pope had “a right” to such a unifying role; but it would have to be in “strict fidelity to scripture”, he said. The goal of ARCIC was to find unity “in which all that we value is respected”. People wished to be “united but not absorbed”.

Speaking of the cool relations be­tween Rome and Canterbury since the ordination of women, Dr Nazir- Ali said: “I do not want to let the hard labour of the last 50 years go to waste.” He said that a new ARCIC, expected to reconvene later this year, would address the central issue of the relationship between the local churches and the worldwide Church.

Last year’s Synod of Bishops in Rome had said that all churches and all Christian families should own and read the Bible. “Tom Wright [the Bishop of Durham] said that, if this had been said in 1523, there would never have been a Reformation”, said Dr Nazir-Ali.

Anglicans had never claimed to be the one true Church. Several Lambeth Conferences had said that Anglicans stood ready to disappear in the cause of greater Catholic unity, he said.
However, there were certain things that they brought to the worldwide Church: the vernacular liturgy, the formation and discipline of clergy, and moral reflection. He re­called that the question of how the Roman Catholic Church could receive “these gifts” had been of concern to Pope Paul VI when he had canonised the English martyrs in the 1970s. He had spoken of a time when “the Roman Catholic Church is able to embrace its ever-beloved sister”.

Recalling the reasons why John Henry Newman had left the Church of England to become a Roman Catho­lic, he said: “It had to do with the ecclesial deficit. I think Anglicans have not addressed this ecclesial deficit properly yet.”

There was in the Anglican Com­munion “the logic of fragmentation” and “the logic of catholicity”. “The question now is: Which will prevail?”

British Ambassador to the Holy See visits Newman Society


Francis Campbell, the British Ambassador to the Holy See, spoke at Oxford University on hursday 14th May. Addressing an audience of academics and students at Blackfriars, the niversity Hall of the Dominicans, the Ambassador delivered a ‘Thomas More Lecture’ which was jointly organised by Oxford University Newman Society and the Las Casas Institute. Mr. ampbell began the lecture by arguing that faith issues had, until relatively recently, been eglected in the formation of foreign policy. He told his audience “While no doubt the marginalising of religion started with the Enlightenment, it was more likely fuelled in recent ecades by ecularisation/modernisation theory ... It was commonly assumed that the world was following a trajectory set off in north Western Europe at the time of the Industrial Revolution. For much of the 20th century the theory went unchallenged.”

The Ambassador stated that “there is scarcely a month without a religious story dominating the media” and provided examples of the resurgence of religious issues on the world stage. Mr. Campbell went on the say that “Increasingly today religion is perceived as a threat because of its association with terrorism. A major challenge is to bring it back to a situation where we have a more balanced perspective and see it as much as a vehicle for peace and helping resolve conflicts.” He posed the question “How do we arrive at a situation where foreign policy is better equipped to deal with religion?” and argued that “First, we must sensitise ourselves to a world in which religion is alive and well; not the world in which some might feel more comfortable. Secondly, we must begin to see religion as much as a source of healing as it is now seen as a source of division.”

In the second part of his lecture Mr. Campbell drew on his experience as Ambassador to the
Holy See to reflect on the importance of Vatican’s diplomatic role on the world stage. He argued that the Holy See occupies a unique position as a world opinion former with grass root networks in almost every country. Focusing on issues of international development, climate change and the environment, and military disarmament the Ambassador outlined areas of concrete corporation between the UK Government and the Holy See.

In his concluding remarks the Ambassador told his audience “Faith is a feature of modern life, including our foreign policy. But when viewed exclusively through a negative prism we are selling our societies short and abandoning a valuable asset which can help us address many contemporary challenges… [R]eligion has played a much needed positive role in bringing peace and stability to many situations. Now, the challenge is to see the bigger canvas: it is to realise that religion can serve to propel us forward to achieve the greatest challenge of our time, feeding the hungry, educating the young, housing the poor and caring for the sick and resolving and preventing conflict. In all of those tasks, the Holy See is a vital partner for the UK.”

The lecture was given as part of Oxford University Newman Society’s 2009 series of Thomas More Lectures’, which are centred on the theme of ‘religion in the public square’. It was held in conjunction with the Las Casas Institute of Blackfriars Hall, as part of the institute’s Martin de Porres programme, which is sponsored by CAFOD.

For further information see:

14 May 2009

H.E. Francis Campbell 'Faith and foreign policy'

'Religion in the public square'

Francis Campbell
HM Ambassador Holy See

'Faith and foreign policy:
A perspective from the Vatican'

Blackfriars, Oxford University
14 May 2009

At the outset I would like to thank the organisers – Oxford University’s Newman Society and the La Casas Institute - for their kind invitation this evening to give a talk on ‘Faith and Foreign Policy’ as part of the Thomas More lecture series.

It is great to see some familiar faces and to be able to witness first hand the work of the new La Casas Institute and I wish Francis and the team the very best in the coming years. I would also like to pay tribute to our Chair this evening – John Battle MP. I have known John from my very first days in the Foreign Office. Again, in No.10 we worked closely together when John served as Tony Blair’s envoy for interfaith.

As we know John has announced that he will not be standing at the next election, and if you forgive me I would like to pay tribute to John tonight for the life of service he has given our society. It is fitting that as we talk this evening about ‘religion in the public square’ we praise the work of one who did so much in his career in public life. We think in particular of John’s work on East Timor and Interfaith where he made a real and lasting difference. John - Thank you.

This evening I have been asked to talk about faith and foreign policy and to give a perspective from my current standpoint at the Vatican. I want to speak to two areas – the first area which will set the context, will look at foreign policy and religion more generally; why religion was often ignored in foreign policy considerations; and why it now deserves to be taken seriously and in a balanced perspective. The second area of the talk will give application by focusing on aspects of the UK’s diplomacy at the Holy See.

6 May 2009

Ambassador calls for a return of religion to policy at Newman Society

From The Catholic Herald

The British Ambassador to the Holy See, Francis Campbell, delivered a major lecture "Faith and Foreign Policy: a perspective from the Vatican" at Blackfriars, Oxford University, on May 14 as part of the Thomas More lecture series.

Mr Campbell argued that for much of the 20th century religion was ignored in foreign policy. He said: "How do we arrive at a situation where foreign policy is better equipped to deal with religion? It must start with two things. First, we must sensitise ourselves to a world in which religion is alive and well; not the world in which some might feel more comfortable. Secondly, we must begin to see religion as much as a source of healing as it is now seen as a source of division."

Religion was perceived as a threat because of its association with terrorism and "a major challenge" was to bring back a "more balanced perspective", he said, and see religion as much as a vehicle for peace and as helping to resolve conflicts.

Religion mattered in foreign policy and has never gone away, he said, but "rather it was the dominant western perspective that was too narrow and deterministic".