The Foreign Office has announced that a British diplomat serving in South Sudan will become the next UK Ambassador to the Holy See.
Chris Trott, 54, has been in Juba since 2019 as ambassador to the war torn country and before that was the UK’s special representative for Sudan and South Sudan. An Africa expert, he has served as ambassador to Senegal, Mali, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau, along with a four year stint in Cape Town as Consul General.
His background in Africa will be welcomed by the Holy See which has long worked to mediate conflicts in the continent alongside supporting the fast-growing Catholic communities.
South Sudan is a priority for Pope Francis who has worked closely with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, in trying to help end the country’s long-running civil war. Francis and Archbishop Welby have for some time indicated their desire to make a historic joint trip to South Sudan and last year hosted a retreat for the country’s leaders in the Vatican. At the end of the retreat, the Pope dramatically kissed the feet of the South Sudanese leaders in an appeal for them to reach a peace deal.
Mr. Trott’s appointment looks designed to help support these efforts, and following his announcement the new ambassador told The Tablet on Twitter that he looks forward to working with the Vatican to “provide support to the people of South Sudan in their quest for peace!”
In a statement the ambassador explained: “Having worked closely with the Vatican on its African agenda over recent years I look forward to expanding my discussions to encompass the full range of issues that affect the world and its people – from poverty to conflict, from justice to climate change. His Holiness Pope Francis is one of the world’s most influential leaders and I look forward to having the opportunity to work with the Vatican on all the challenges facing the world today.”
Mr Trott will take up his position in the summer of 2021, and succeeds Ambassador Sally Axworthy who has been in post since September 2016. She is a respected diplomat in Rome who is credited with having worked productively with the Holy See on a range of issues.
Ambassador Trott has been a diplomat since 1991 and, along with Africa, his postings include Burma, Japan, Afghanistan and the South Pacific.