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The “third world war fought piecemeal” to which Pope Francis regularly refers was once again the focus of his address on December 7, 2023. He delivered these words on the occasion of the presentation of credentials to ambassadors from six countries: Kuwait, New Zealand, Malawi, Guinea, Sweden and Chad. As is customary, the non-resident ambassadors were received collectively by the Pope, unlike the resident ambassadors who were received individually.
“Given the global dimensions of the conflicts in course, the international community is challenged, through the peaceful means of diplomacy, to seek global solutions to the grave injustices that so often are the cause of those conflicts,” the Pope said in his brief address.
Taking up a reflection developed in his recent apostolic exhortation Laudate Deum, he explained that the situation urgently requires “a reconfiguration of multilateral diplomacy, with the aim of providing effective responses to emerging problems and devising global mechanisms to address the environmental, public health, cultural, and social changes presently in course.”
Fostering respect for dignity and human rights
“The noble and patient work of diplomacy to which you are committed must not only seek to prevent and resolve conflicts, but also to consolidate the peaceful coexistence and human flourishing of the world’s peoples,” the Pope added. He urged them to act “by fostering respect for human dignity, defending the inalienable rights of each man, woman and child, and promoting models of integral economic and human development.”
Reiterating his concern about the effects of climate change on the populations of the poorest countries, the Pontiff expressed his hope that COP28 in Dubai would “represent an historic step forward in responding with wisdom and foresight to these clear and present threats to the universal common good.”
Explaining that “the presence and activity of the Holy See within the international community is inspired by the desire to advance human fraternity and that peace which, as the prophet Isaiah announces, is ‘the fruit of justice,’” the Pope assured the new ambassadors of his and the Curia’s readiness to help them succeed in their mission.
The backgrounds of the new ambassadors
Kuwait’s ambassador, Yaqoub Yousef Aland, turns 54 at the end of the month. After graduating in Political Science and Public Administration from Kuwait University in 1992, he served in his country’s diplomatic service, notably with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and embassies in Brazil and Canada, before becoming Ambassador to Spain, Kenya — this embassy also covers the UN institutions headquartered in Nairobi, as well as Burundi, Tanzania and Rwanda — and Singapore.
Since 2022, he has been Kuwait’s ambassador to Switzerland, and has also been accredited to Liechtenstein since 2023. Kuwait, a small Gulf emirate that was the focus of international attention in 1990-91 when it was invaded by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, has four Catholic parishes, mainly frequented by expatriates working in the health and oil sectors.
New Zealand’s ambassador Tara Deborah Morton is 43 years old. A lawyer trained in law and international relations, she has worked in a variety of roles for New Zealand diplomacy, including at the New Zealand embassies in the People’s Republic of China and at her country’s permanent mission to the UN in New York from 2010 to 2013. While there, she then took a sabbatical to study fashion at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
She then served as Chargé d’Affaires at the Embassy in Iraq in 2019 and 2020, and has been Ambassador to Spain since January 2023. She is also accredited to Morocco, Malta, and the Principality of Andorra. Her mainly Protestant country in Oceania was visited by John Paul II from November 22 to 24, 1986.
Joseph John Mpinganjira, 69, is the new ambassador for Malawi, a landlocked African country with a very high poverty rate. He is a graduate in philosophy from St. Anthony’s Seminary in Malawi, theology from the University of Malawi, and canon law from the University of Münster in Germany in 2000.
He worked for the Catholic Church of Malawi as president of the diocesan tribunal of the archdiocese of Lilongwe, the capital, from 2000 to 2005, before becoming secretary general of the bishops’ conference from 2005 to 2008. He then worked for NGOs involved in good governance and the fight against hunger, as well as acting as advisor in governance for the Irish Embassy in Malawi. Since 2021, this German-speaker has been Malawi’s ambassador to Germany.
Guinea’sambassador to the Holy See, Aliou Barry, 46, holds a degree from the Université Libre de Bruxelles in international development cooperation, and is a specialist in multilateralism. He has carried out several joint missions between the African Union and the European Union, before working from 2013 to 2016 as an advisor to MONUSCO (United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Congo) and then from 2016 to 2018 as head of the political mediation division at MINUSMA (United Nations Stabilization Mission in Mali).
He then became head of political affairs at the African Union Mission for Mali and the Sahel from 2018 to 2023. Since May 2023, he has been ambassador to Germany. His predominantly Muslim country is marked by the figure of Cardinal Robert Sarah, who was Archbishop of Conakry from 1979 to 2001.
Sweden’s new ambassador, Per Holmström, is 62 years old and has a degree in political science and law from Stockholm University. Active in Swedish diplomacy since 1990, he was Consul in Jerusalem from 1992 to 1995, before serving twice at the Swedish Embassy in France, from 1995 to 1999 as first secretary and then from 2006 to 2011 as deputy head of mission.
He subsequently served as Swedish Ambassador to the Netherlands, and from 2018 to 2023 as head of the Department for International Cooperation and Development at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
This Scandinavian country, marked by the Lutheran tradition, was visited by Pope Francis on October 31 and November 1, 2016, on the occasion of an act commemorating 500 years of the Reformation.
Chad’s new ambassador, Ahmad Makaila, is 52 years old. Trained in journalism in Niger, and holding a master’s degree in administration and management from the University of Lille, he was communications advisor to President Idriss Déby from 2002 to 2004, and editorial writer for Radio France Internationale.
After working as a consultant for the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and director of the Chadian News Agency, in 2017 he became Chad’s ambassador to Switzerland and to international organizations based in that country, before becoming ambassador to France, a position he has held since January 31, 2023.