VATICANLOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT
FLORA AND FAUNA
ENERGY AND POWER
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
BALANCE OF PAYMENTS
BANKING AND SECURITIES
CUSTOMS AND DUTIES
LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS
TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION
The Holy See (State of the Vatican City)
Santa Sede (Stato della Cittá del Vaticano)
CAPITAL: Vatican City
FLAG: The flag consists of two vertical stripes, yellow at the hoist and white at the fly. On the white field, in yellow, are the crossed keys of St. Peter, the first pope, surmounted by the papal tiara (triple crown).
ANTHEM: Pontifical March (no words).
MONETARY UNIT: In 1930, after a lapse of 60 years, the Vatican resumed issuance of its own coinage—the lira (l)—but it agreed to issue no more than 300 million lire in any year. There are coins of 10, 20, 50, 100, and 500 lire. Both Italy and the Vatican adopted the euro as official currency in 2002. The euro is divided into 100 cents. There are coins in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents and 1 euro and 2 euros. There are notes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 euros. The Vatican lira is fixed at 1,936.17 lire per euro. €1 = $1.25475 (or $1 = €0.79697) as of 2005.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is in use.
HOLIDAYS: Roman Catholic religious holidays; the coronation day of the reigning pope; days when public consistory is held.
TIME: 1 pm = noon GMT.
Located within Rome, Vatican City is the smallest state in Europe and in the world. It is a roughly triangular area of 0.44 sq km (0.17 sq mi) lying near the west bank of the Tiber River and to the west of the Castel Sant'Angelo. On the w and s it is bounded by the Leonine Wall. The Vatican area comprises the following: St. Peter's Square, enclosed by Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini's quadruple colonnade; St. Peter's Basilica, the largest Christian church in the world, to which the square serves as an entrance; a quadrangular area north of the square in which there are administrative buildings and Belvedere Park; the pontifical palaces, or the Vatican proper, lying west of Belvedere Park; and the Vatican Gardens, which occupy about half the acreage.
Outside Vatican City itself, extraterritoriality is exercised over a number of churches and palaces in Rome, notably the Lateran Basilica and Palace in the Piazza San Giovanni, the Palace of San Callisto at the foot of the Janiculum hill, and the basilicas of Santa Maria Maggiore and San Paolo fuori le Mura. Extraterritoriality outside the city of Rome extends to the papal villa and its environs (almost 40 hectares/100 acres) at Castel Gandolfo, 24 km (15 mi) se of Rome, and to the area (about 420 hectares/1,040 acres) at Santa Maria di Galeria, some 19 km (12 mi) n of Rome, where a Vatican radio station was established in 1957.
Vatican City lies on a slight hill not far from the Tiber River.
Winters are mild, and although summer temperatures are high during the day, the evenings are cold. Temperatures in January average 7°c (45°f); in July, 24°c (75°f). There is little rain from May to September; October and November are the wettest months.
The gardens are famous for their fine collection of orchids and other exotic flora. Vatican City, being entirely urban, does not have a distinctive fauna.
The environment of Vatican City is similar to that of Rome (see Italy). Though there are no specific endangered species, according to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) there are five species with minimal or least concern. These are the long-tailed field mouse, the European water vole, the Crucian carp, the bank vole, and the red fox.
The population of Holy See in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 798, which placed it at number 193 in population among the 193 nations of the world. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 2005–10 was expected to be 0.9%, a rate the government viewed as satisfactory. The projected population for the year 2025 was 1,000. The population density was 2273 per sq km (5887 per sq mi).
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Although the citizenry of the Vatican includes cardinals and other clergymen from all parts of the world, most of the inhabitants are Italian. The members of the Swiss Guard are a notable exception. Pope Benedict XVI is German.
Italian is the official language of Vatican City, but Latin is the official language of the Holy See (the seat of jurisdiction of the pope as spiritual leader) and is employed for most papal encyclicals and other formal pronouncements. As the ordinary working language, Italian is in greater use. French, German, and other languages are used.
Vatican City is the center of the worldwide organization of the Roman Catholic Church and the seat of the pope. Roman Catholicism is the official religion and the primary business of the state itself.
Vatican City is easily reached by the public transportation system of Rome. It has its own railroad station, with 862 m (2,828 ft) of track, which connect to Italy's network at Rome's Saint Peter's station. Vatican City also has a helicopter landing pad.
Since the time of St. Peter, regarded by the Church as the first pope, Rome has been the seat of the popes, except in periods of great turbulence, when the pontiffs were forced to take refuge elsewhere, most notably in Avignon, France, from 1309 to 1377. The Roman papal residence before modern times was usually in the Lateran or Quirinal rather than in the Vatican Palace.
The Vatican City State and the places over which the Vatican now exercises jurisdiction are the sole remnants of the States of the Church, or Papal States, which at various times, beginning in 755, included large areas in Italy and, until the French Revolution, even parts of southern France. Most of the papal domain fell into the hands of King Victor Emmanuel II in 1860 in the course of the unification of Italy. By 1870, Pope Pius IX, supported by a garrison of French troops, retained rule over only the besieged city of Rome and a small territory surrounding it. Upon the withdrawal of the French garrison to take part in the Franco-Prussian War, the walls of Rome were breached by the besieging forces on 20 September, and the city fell. On 2 October, following a plebiscite, the city was annexed to the kingdom of Italy and made the national capital.
In May 1871, the Italian government promulgated a Law of Guarantees, which purported to establish the relations between the Italian kingdom and the papacy. The enactment declared the person of the pope to be inviolate, guaranteed him full liberty in his religious functions and in the conduct of diplomatic relations, awarded an annual indemnity in lieu of the income lost when the Papal States were annexed, and provided the right of extraterritoriality over the Vatican and the papal palaces. Pius IX refused to accept the law or the money allowance; he and his successors chose to become "prisoners of the Vatican." Until 1919, Roman Catholics were prohibited by the papacy from participating in the Italian government.
The so-called Roman Question was brought to an end by the conclusion on 11 February 1929 of three Lateran treaties between the Vatican and Italy. One treaty recognized the full sovereignty of the Vatican and established its territorial extent. Another treaty was a concordat establishing the Roman Catholic Church as the state church of Italy. The remaining treaty awarded the Vatican 750 million old lire in cash and one billion old lire in interest-bearing state bonds in lieu of all financial claims against Italy for annexing the Papal States. The constitution of the Italian Republic, adopted in 1947, substantially embodies the terms of the Lateran treaties. In 1962–65, the Vatican was the site of the Second Vatican Council, the first worldwide council in almost a century. Convened by Pope John XXIII and continued under Paul VI, the Council resulted in modernization of the Church's role in spiritual and social matters.
Ecumenism was the hallmark of the reign (1963–78) of Pope Paul VI. In a move to further Christian unity, he met with Athenagoras, the ecumenical patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church, in Jerusalem in 1964. In 1973, Paul VI conferred with the Coptic Orthodox patriarch of Alexandria; later in that same year, he met the exiled Dalai Lama, the first such meeting between a pope and a Buddhist leader. Steps were also taken to improve Roman Catholic-Jewish relations, including a 1965 declaration that Jews are not to be held collectively guilty of the death of Jesus. On doctrinal questions Pope Paul VI was generally conservative, reaffirming papal infallibility, disciplining dissident priests, and reiterating traditional Church opposition to all "artificial" methods of contraception, including abortion and sterilization. In September 1972, the concept of an all-male celibate priesthood was upheld.
Pope Paul VI was succeeded by Pope John Paul I, who reigned for only 34 days. John Paul I's sudden death, on 28 September 1978, brought about the election of Polish Cardinal Karol Wojtyla as John Paul II, the first non-Italian pontiff elected in over 450 years. On 13 May 1981, John Paul II was wounded in Vatican Square by a Turkish gunman, who is serving a life sentence. The alleged accomplices, three Bulgarians and three Turks, were acquitted of conspiracy in the assassination attempt on 29 March 1986 because of lack of evidence.
During his reign (1978–2005), John Paul II traveled widely, a practice begun by Paul VI. He also established himself as a conservative in doctrinal matters, as indicated in 1982 by his elevation to the status of personal prelature of Opus Dei, an international organization of 72,000 laity and priests known for its doctrinal fidelity. He spent much of his papacy railing against materialism and moral laxity. During John Paul II's papacy, the Lateran treaties of 1929 were superseded in 1984 by a new concordat under which the pope retained temporal authority over Vatican City but Roman Catholicism was no longer Italy's state religion.
Throughout the 1990s, John Paul tried to build bridges to the Islamic world. Iran's president visited the Vatican in 1999 and a controversial trip to Iraq to talk to Saddam Hussein was cancelled that same year. He also traveled to Israel in March 2000 where he visited different Holocaust memorials during this trip and went to Bethlehem to reaffirm the Holy See's support for an independent Palestinian homeland.
John Paul II came out against embryonic or stem-cell research in 2001, stating it would lead to other evils such as "euthanasia and infanticide." Following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, John Paul II urged harmony between Christians and Muslims. He initially stated that conflicts must not be resolved by force, but by peaceful negotiation; however, he subsequently indicated the United States might need to use force against terrorists in the name of self-defense. When the Al Aqsa intifada—begun in September 2000 in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza Strip—intensified in the spring of 2002, John Paul II appealed for peace in the region, saying "nothing is resolved by war." He also reasserted his firm belief in peace over the use of force during the 2002–03 diplomatic and military crisis in Iraq. Nevertheless, his criticism of the conflict did not prevent war. Following the defeat of the Saddam Hussein regime in April 2003, John Paul II stated the Iraqi people should be responsible for the rebuilding of Iraq, while working closely with the international community, meaning the UN.
The Vatican announced in December 2002 it would open its archives relating to interactions with Nazi Germany from 1922–39 to scholars. The Catholic Church has been criticized for not doing enough to stop the persecution of Jews during the Holocaust.
Following the eruption of sex scandals in the United States regarding pedophile priests, John Paul II called for an emergency meeting with US cardinals in April 2002. US bishops had approved a "zero tolerance" policy on priests accused of sexual abuse, which would have priests suspended immediately following an accusation of abuse, but the Vatican demanded certain protections for the rights of priests.
In May 2003, the Vatican officially confirmed the pope suffered from Parkinson's disease. Despite his illness and his suffering from severe arthritis, John Paul II continued to travel exhaustively until his death on 2 April 2005.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a close confidante of John Paul II, was chosen on 19 April 2005 as the next pope, and was given the name Pope Benedict XVI. Ratzinger, originally from Cologne, Germany, was 78 years old at the time of his election; this made him the oldest pope ever elected. He predicted that his tenure would be short and that his primary purpose would be to complete John Paul II's work. He was formally installed as pope on 24 April 2005. As a cardinal, Ratzinger was known as a hard-line advocate of Vatican orthodoxy. He strongly opposed abortion, homosexuality, and religious pluralism. A long-time friend and ally of John Paul II, Ratzinger's selection as pope was greeted with dismay by more liberal factions within the Catholic Church. Many feared that he would divide, rather than unite, Catholics worldwide. In the early months of his papacy, Pope Benedict XVI supported the conservative stance of his predecessor. In May 2005, Benedict XVI called on voters in Italy to boycott a referendum that would repeal restrictions on artificial insemination and embryonic research. However, in October 2005, the Vatican completed a document that appeared to relax its stance against homosexuality somewhat. A change in policy on those entering the priesthood suggested that gay men who had lived a chaste life for at least three years prior to their admission to a seminary would be eligible. Previously, the Vatican banned homosexuals from priesthood, regardless of their status.
The pope is simultaneously the absolute sovereign of the Vatican City State and the head of the Roman Catholic Church throughout the world. Since 1984, the pope has been represented by the cardinal secretary of state in the civil governance of Vatican City. In administering the government of the Vatican, the pope is assisted by the Pontifical Commission for the Vatican City State. Religious affairs are governed under the pope's direction by a number of ecclesiastical bodies known collectively as the Roman Curia.
The Pontifical Commission consists of seven cardinals and a lay special delegate, assisted since 1968 by a board of 21 lay advisers. Under the commission are the following: a central council (heading various administrative offices); the directorships of museums, technical services, economic services (including the postal and telegraph systems), and medical services; the guard; the Vatican radio system and television center; the Vatican observatory; and the directorship of the villa at Castel Gandolfo, the traditional summer residence of popes.
Much of the work of the Roman Curia is conducted by offices called sacred congregations, each headed by a cardinal appointed for a five-year period. These are the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (responsible for faith and morals, including the examination and, if necessary, prohibition of books and other writings), the Sacred Congregation for Bishops (diocesan affairs), the Sacred Congregation for the Eastern Churches (relations between Eastern and Latin Rites), the Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments, the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy, the Sacred Congregation for Religious Orders and Secular Institutes (monastic and lay communities), the Sacred Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (missions), the Sacred Congregation for the Causes of Saints (beatification and canonization), and the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education (seminaries and religious schools). There are also secretariats for Christian unity, non-Christians, and nonbelievers, and there are permanent and temporary councils and commissions for various other functions.
A pope serves from his election until death. On his decease, the College of Cardinals is called into conclave to choose a successor from their number. The usual method is to vote on the succession; in this case, the cardinal who receives two-thirds plus one of the votes of those present is declared elected. Pending the election, most Vatican business is held in abeyance.
Before the reign of Pope John XXIII, the size of the College of Cardinals was limited to 70. Pope John raised the membership to 88, and his successor, Pope Paul VI, increased the number to 136. Paul VI also decreed that as of 1 January 1971, cardinals would cease to be members of departments of the Curia upon reaching the age of 80 and would lose the right to participate in the election of a pope. In 2001, Pope John Paul II created 44 new cardinals, and the number of cardinals in the college at that time was 184, representing 68 countries. The 2005 conclave to select John Paul II's successor included 117 cardinals.
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For ordinary legal matters occurring within Vatican territory, there is a tribunal of first instance. Criminal cases are tried in Italian courts. There are three tribunals at the Vatican for religious cases. The Apostolic Penitentiary determines questions of penance and absolution from sin. The Roman Rota deals principally with marital issues but is also competent to handle appeals from any decisions of lower ecclesiastical courts. In exceptional cases, the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature hears appeals from the Rota, which ordinarily is the court of last resort.
New codes of canon law for the government of the Latin Rite churches and the administration of the Curia were promulgated in 1918 and 1983. Eastern Rite churches have their own canon law.
The papal patrol force now consists only of the Swiss Guard, who, sometimes armed with such ceremonial weapons as halberds, walk their posts in picturesque striped uniforms supposedly designed by Michelangelo. The force was founded in 1506 and is recruited from several Roman Catholic cantons of Switzerland. It now numbers approximately 100 members. There is also a civilian security force, responsible to the Central Office of Security, which protects Vatican personnel and property, and the art treasures owned by the Church. The Vatican maintains its own jail.
Vatican City's diplomatic relations are conducted by its secretariat of state and the Council for Public Affairs of the Church. The Vatican holds permanent observer status in the United Nations and several specialized agencies, such as UNESCO, IAEA, UNEP, WHO, the World Food Program (WFP), United Nations Center for Human Settlements (UNCHS), and the FAO. The Vatican is also an observer with the African Union and the WTO. It is a member of the OSCE, holds a guest seat in the Nonaligned Movement, and participates in the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
The Vatican, being essentially an administrative center, is dependent for its support on the receipt of charitable contributions, the fees charged those able to pay for the services of the congregations and other ecclesiastical bodies, and interest on investments. Funds are also raised from the sale of stamps, religious literature, and mementos and from museum admissions. Vatican City's economy is not commercial in the usual sense.
The labor force is small and is primarily employed in services and small industry. Most of the people working in the Vatican (dignitaries, priests, nuns, guards, and 3,000 lay workers) live outside the city.
In 2002, the city budget totaled $245.2 million, while expenditures reached $260.4 million.
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The labor force consists mainly of priests and other ecclesiastics, who serve as consultants or councilors; about 3,000 laborers, who live outside the Vatican; the guards; the nuns, who do the cooking, cleaning, laundering, and tapestry repair; and the cardinals, archbishops, bishops, and other higher dignitaries. Some ecclesiastical officials live outside Vatican City and commute from the secular city. The Association of Vatican Lay Workers, a trade union, has 1,800 members.
Lay employees of the Vatican have always had to be Roman Catholics and swear loyalty to the Pope. Under a new set of rules of conduct implemented in October 1995, new employees have to sign a statement binding them to observe the moral doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church.
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As of 1 November 2005, all electric power was supplied by Italy, but the Vatican's generating plant had a capacity of 5,000 kW in 1990.
A studio in the Vatican produces mosaic work, and a sewing establishment produces uniforms. There is a large printing plant, the Vatican Polyglot Press, which produces coins, medals, and postage stamps.
The Vatican promotes the study of science and mathematics through the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which dates from 1603. The Vatican Observatory was begun by Pope Gregory XIII. It has modern instruments, an astrophysics laboratory, and a 33,000-volume library.
The Vatican is basically a noncommercial economy, with no major imports or exports. Primary domestic industries include printing, mosaics, and staff uniforms. Products for retail sale are primarily postage stamps, tourist souvenirs, and publications.
Does not apply, as the Vatican does not really have foreign trade. Its entire economy is based on tourism and donations (known as Peter's Pence) from Catholics around the world. However, the Vatican remains extremely wealthy despite its complete lack of natural resources because of the priceless artwork it possesses.
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The Vatican bank, known as the Institute for Religious Works (Istituto per le Opere di Religione—IOR), was founded in 1942. It carries out fiscal operations and invests and transfers the funds of the Vatican and of Roman Catholic religious communities throughout the world. The Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See manages the Vatican's capital assets.
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State income is derived from fees paid by the public for visiting the art galleries and from the sale of Vatican City postage stamps, tourist mementos, and publications. The Vatican also receives income in the form of voluntary contributions (Peter's pence) from all over the world and from interest on investments. The Prefecture for Economic Affairs coordinates Vatican finances.
The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2002 the Holy See's central government took in revenues of approximately $245.2 million and had expenditures of $260.4 million. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$15.2 million.
Residents of Vatican City pay no taxes.
Vatican City imposes no customs tariffs.
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The Vatican administers industrial, real estate, and artistic holdings valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Investments have been in a wide range of enterprises, with makers of contraceptives and munitions specifically excepted.
Celibacy is required of all Roman Catholic clergy, except permanent deacons. The Church upholds the concept of family planning through such traditional methods as rhythm and abstinence but resolutely opposes such "artificial methods" as contraceptive pills and devices, as well as abortion and sterilization. Five important papal encyclicals—Rerum Novarum (1870), Quadragesimo Anno (1931), Mater et Magistra (1961), Pacem in Terris (1963), and Laborem Exercens (1981)—have enunciated the Church position on matters of workers' rights and social and international justice.
The health services directorate, under the Pontifical Commission for the Vatican City State, is responsible for health matters.
A small portion of the Vatican Palace (about 200 out of 1,000 rooms) serve as the residence for the pope, the secretary of state, high court officials, high officials in close attendance to the pope, and some administrative and scientific officials. Quarters for the Swiss Guard and the gendarmes are also located in the palace. Some officials and visitors find housing in Italy just outside of the Vatican borders. There is no information available on other housing within the state itself.
The Vatican is a major center for higher education for Roman Catholic clergy, particularly those being trained for upper level church positions. Adult literacy is 100%. About 65 papal educational institutions are scattered throughout Rome; some of the more important (all prefixed by the word "Pontifical") are the Gregorian University, the Biblical Institute, the Institute of Oriental Studies, the Lateran Athenaeum, the Institute of Christian Archaeology, and the Institute of Sacred Music. There were a total of 14,403 students in 1996 with 1,872 teaching staff in all higherlevel institutions.
The Apostolic Library of the Vatican is one of the most famous in the world. Founded in 1450 by Pope Nicholas V, the collection includes more than 1.1 million books, 72,000 manuscripts, 8,300 incunabula, 80,000 archival files, and 100,000 engravings. The Vatican Secret Archives, so called because originally they were strictly private records of the Vatican affairs, were opened to students in 1880. Literary scholars come from all over the world to study the collection of manuscripts. In 1994, librarians began entering the entire card catalogue of printed books into a computerized file accessible via the Internet.
Besides over a dozen museums, some of which figure among the greatest in the world, Vatican City includes as part of its decoration frescoes painted by Raphael (in the Stanze), Michelangelo (in the Sistine and Pauline Chapels), and other great Renaissance artists. In April 1994, after more than 14 years of careful cleaning, Michelangelo's frescoes became fully visible again. Among the museums in the Vatican are the Pius Clementine, the Chiaramonti, and New Wing (exhibiting antique sculpture); the Gregorian Etruscan and the Gregorian Egyptian museums; the Pinacoteca (paintings); the Collection of Modern Religious Art; the frescoed chapels, rooms, and galleries; and the Sacred and the Profane museums, which are administered by the Vatican Library.
The state maintains its own telegraph and postal facilities and has a 2,000-line automatic telephone exchange tied into the Italian system. Radio Vatican, founded in 1931, comprises two facilities, one in Vatican City proper and the other outside Rome at Santa Maria di Galeria. There are 3 AM and 4 FM stations; in addition, shortwave broadcasts can reach the entire world. Programs in 34 languages are broadcast regularly. There is also one television station. The Vatican Television Center, founded in 1983, produces and distributes religious programs. Agenzia Fides and Missionary Service News Agency are the primary news agencies.
Vatican City is an important center for publishing. A semiofficial newspaper of wide fame, L'Osservatore Romano, founded in 1861, is published daily, with an estimated 2002 circulation of 70,000 copies. Since 1934, the Vatican has also published L'Osservatore della Domenica, an illustrated weekly. The Acta Apostolicae Sedis (Record of the Apostolic See) appears regularly on a monthly basis and occasionally at other times; it publishes papal encyclicals and other official papers. An annual, the Annuario Pontificio, is issued as a record of the Vatican and the Roman Catholic hierarchy. The International Religious Press Service (Agenzia Internazionale Fides—AIF), founded in 1927, distributes news of missionary activity and publishes Information (weekly, in various languages, including English), Documentation (irregular), and Photographic Service (weekly).
In the mid-1990s, nearly 50 periodicals were published, with a total circulation of almost 60,000. The book publishers for the Vatican are the Vatican Editions (Libreria Editrice Vaticana), the Vatican Apostolic Library (Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana), and the Vatican Polyglot Press (Tipografia Poliglotta Vaticana).
The organizations at the Vatican are chiefly learned societies devoted to theology, science, archaeology, liturgy, and martyrdom. The Pontifical Academy of Sciences promotes study in mathematics and the physical and natural sciences. The Pontifical Council for Culture, founded in 1982, focuses on the study of unbelief and religious indifference, particularly concerning the cause and effect of nonreligious or antireligious attitudes in various cultures. The Apostleship of the Sea, based in the Vatican, is an organization of ship, port, and nautical school chaplains (and other sailors) who offer a wide variety of support to maritime workers and their families. Caritas International, representing social service organizations in 200 countries, is based in the Vatican. The World Federation of Catholic Medical Associations is also based in the Vatican.
The Vatican is regularly visited by tourists in Rome, by pilgrims attracted by the jubilees proclaimed by the pope every 25 years, and by other special occasions. While there are no public accommodations in the Vatican, special inexpensive facilities are often arranged in Rome for pilgrims. No passport or identification is usually needed for admission to the public parts of the Vatican.
In 2005, the US Department of State estimated the average daily spending in the Vatican at $490.
By virtue of their position of world importance, many popes are persons of fame. Among those who greatly increased the secular power of the papacy were St. Gregory I (the Great, 540?–604), pope from 590 to 604, who also was influential in matters of doctrine, liturgy, and missionary work; St. Gregory VII (Hildebrand, 1020?–1085), pope from 1073 to 1085, who engaged in conflict with Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV, forcing him to do public penance at the village of Canossa, and later was driven from Rome by him; and Alexander VI (Rodrigo Lanzol y Borja, b. Spain, 1431?–1503), pope from 1492 to 1503, who also divided colonial territories in the New World between Spain and Portugal.
The most significant 19th-century pope was Pius IX (Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, 1792–1878), pope from 1846 to 1878, who lost the Papal States to the kingdom of Italy and convened the First Vatican Council (1869–70), which established the doctrine of papal infallibility in matters of faith and morals. The first popes who reigned since the establishment of the Vatican City State in 1929 were Pius XI (Achille Damiano Ratti, 1857–1939), from 1922 to 1939, and Pius XII (Eugenio Pacelli, 1876–1958), from 1939 to 1958.
John XXIII (Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, 1881–1963), pope from 1958 to 1963, made history by convening the Second Vatican Council (1962–65), by altering the text of the canon of the mass for the first time since the 7th century, and by strongly defining the position of the Church on problems of labor and social progress (in his encyclical Mater et Magistra of June 1961). His greatest achievement was generally considered to be his eighth encyclical, Pacem in Terris (issued on 10 April 1963), a profound plea for peace, in which he hailed the UN as a defender of human rights.
Paul VI (Giovanni Battista Montini, 1897–1978), pope from 1963 to 1978, continued Pope John's effort to attain unity of the Christian world. On 4 October 1965, he addressed the UN General Assembly, appealing for world peace and international cooperation. He presided over the concluding sessions of the Second Vatican Council and traveled to many places, including the Holy Land.
Albino Luciani (1912–78), patriarch of Venice, was elected pope on 26 August 1978 and took the name John Paul I. He died on 28 September after a reign of only 34 days. His successor, John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla, 1920–2005), was elevated to the papacy on 16 October 1978. This former archbishop of Cracow was not only the first Polish pope but also the first non-Italian pope since the Renaissance. Despite suffering severe wounds in a 1981 assassination attempt, John Paul II continued to travel widely. To the dismay of Jewish and other leaders, John Paul II granted Austrian President Kurt Waldheim (b.1918) an audience in June 1987, despite accusations that Waldheim had taken part in war crimes during World War II when he was an officer in the German army. John Paul opposed abortion, contraception, homosexuality, divorce, the ordination of women, capital punishment, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia, and war. He died on 2 April 2005.
A German pope, Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Alois Ratzinger, b.1927) succeeded John Paul II in 2005, and continued the traditional Catholic doctrines mapped out by his predecessor.
The Vatican has no territories or colonies.
Duursma, Jorri. Self-Determination, Statehood, and International Relations of Micro-States: The Cases of Liechtenstein, San Marino, Monaco, Andorra, and the Vatican City. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
Hartt, Frederick. Michelangelo Buonarroti. New York: H.N. Abrams, 2004.
McDowell, Bart. Inside the Vatican. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 2005.
Reese, Thomas J. Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1996.
Rhodes, Anthony Richard Ewart. The Vatican in the Age of the Cold War, 1945–1980. Norwich: Michael Russell, 1992.
Tronzo, William (ed.). St. Peter's in the Vatican. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
"Vatican." Worldmark Encyclopedia of Nations. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 12, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/vatican
"Vatican." Worldmark Encyclopedia of Nations. . Retrieved December 12, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/vatican
The term Vatican, like the word Washington, has multiple meanings. Geographically, it is one of the Seven Hills of Rome, located west of the Tiber River. Politically, it is an independent state within the city of Rome. Ecclesiologically, it is the bureaucracy that serves the pope in governing the Catholic Church.
With the collapse of the Roman Empire in the West, the people of Italy turned to the Church for leadership when Constantinople was unable to defend them against the barbarian invasions. Even before the Papal States formally existed, popes were raising armies, maintaining public order, and providing government services. By 590, Gregory the Great was the de facto ruler of Italy. With Lombards attacking from the north and a weak and unsympathetic imperial government in the south, Pope Zacharias backed Pepin as king of the Franks. In exchange, Pepin defended Rome and presented the pope with the Papal States in 773. His son, Charlemagne, was crowned in Rome by Pope Leo III in 800, establishing the Church as a major source of political legitimacy in Europe.
For the next 1,100 years, through diplomacy and war, the popes fought to preserve or expand the Papal States, which they saw as the only way to maintain the political and financial independence of the Church in a precapitalistic agrarian society. The power and wealth of the Papal States, however, corrupted the papacy as much as it protected it. The loss of the Papal States in 1870 proved to be an unanticipated blessing for the Church because it freed the papacy to pursue its spiritual goals without having to worry about governing 16,000 square miles of Italy. The normalization of relations between the Vatican and Italy in 1929 left the pope with 108.7 acres.
Under international law, the Vatican is a sovereign state headed by the pope, who has supreme legislative, executive, and judicial authority. It has its own army (Swiss Guard), flag, passports, stamps, post office, Internet domain extension (.va, as in vatican.va.), and the right to mint a limited number of coins. Criminals are normally turned over to Italy for prosecution and punishment. Citizenship is given on a temporary basis to about 500 people working for the Vatican, about half of whom are members of the Vatican diplomatic service. Another 100 are members of the Swiss Guard. The governance of Vatican City is delegated to the Pontifical Commission for the Vatican State (five cardinals), which is headed by a cardinal president appointed by the pope. Under the president, a lay delegate acts as a city manager and runs the day-to-day affairs of Vatican City, which employs about 1,300 people for administration, maintenance, police, stores, and its world-class museums. The Vatican City budget is normally in the black even though it has no taxes because of income from the museums, post office, supermarket, gasoline station, and other stores.
Located in the Vatican is the Instituto per le Opere di Religione, commonly known as the IOR or Vatican Bank, founded in 1887 after the fall of the Papal States as a way of keeping Vatican finances independent of Italian control. Its depositors are now limited to the Vatican agencies, Vatican employees, dioceses, religious orders, and other Church entities. Although in the past some depositors used it to launder money, since 1993 the bank has cooperated with police investigations. Like any bank, it invests its deposits; the profits are used at the discretion of the pope. Its involvement in one investment scandal caused it to pay $244 million to Banco Ambrosiano creditors. This scandal led to the reform of the bank, which is now governed by a committee of cardinals whose principal function is to select a supervisory council of financial experts from around the world to supervise the bank and hire its lay director-general. No financial report is made public.
The Vatican Curia is the bureaucracy that helps the pope in his ministry as head of the Catholic Church (he has a separate bureaucracy for the diocese of Rome). The oldest bureaucracy in the world, it is shaped more by history than organizational theory and still has many of the trappings of a medieval court. It has about 2,500 employees. The professional staff (mostly priests) is recruited from all over the world, but the support staff is mostly Italian. It is financed by donations and income from investments. The official language is Latin, but the working language is Italian. Most offices have people who can communicate in the other major European languages.
The top official under the pope is the secretary of state, who is more like a prime minister than a U.S. secretary of state. The secretary of state has two offices: the First Section for General Affairs, headed by the sostituto (substitute), and the Second Section for Relations with States, headed by the secretary for relations with states. Although there are numerous exceptions, the principal work of the First Section is internal Church affairs, while the Second Section deals with international issues. Both sections are relatively small; for example, the Second Section has only about forty people.
The First Section is divided into language desks, with the sostituto acting as the pope’s chief of staff. Practically all paper going to and from the pope goes through this office, making the sostituto one of the most powerful men in the Vatican, although he is not a cardinal.
The Second Section, divided into country desks, is the Vatican’s foreign ministry, with the secretary acting as the foreign minister. Practically every nation in the world sends an ambassador to the Holy See (the major exception is China). The Vatican stresses (and legal scholars agree) that diplomatic relations are with the Holy See and that the pope would have the right to them under international law even if the State of Vatican City (Stato della Città del Vaticano ) ceased to exist. Vatican foreign policy has supported international cooperation through the United Nations, the peaceful resolution of international disputes, human rights, disarmament, and aid to refugees and poor countries, while opposing international financing of abortion. But its principal concern is the promotion of religious freedom and the good of the Church. Historically it has attempted to protect the rights of local churches through international treaties (concordats) with countries.
Other dicasteries (offices) of the curia are organized as congregations or councils. They are committees of prelates (some working in Rome, others heading dioceses around the world), which meet under the leadership of a prefect (for congregations) or president (for councils). The prefects and presidents also head the staffs of their congregations and councils, which do the day-to-day work of the curia. The older congregations tend to deal with internal Church affairs: doctrine, liturgy, Eastern (non-Latin) Catholic churches, canonization of saints, appointment of bishops, evangelization, clergy, members of religious orders, and Catholic education. The newer councils are a mixed bag of offices dealing with issues that have concerned the Church since Vatican II: laity, ecumenism, family, justice and peace, health-care workers, canon law, communications, culture, and interreligious dialogue. Most staffs are quite small. They relate to Catholic dioceses around the world either directly or through the Vatican diplomatic representatives (nuncios) in each country.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly the Inquisition) is the most powerful office. It must review and approve the doctrinal content of documents from other offices before publication. It also attempts to control the teaching and writing done by Catholic theologians around the world. The congregations for bishops and evangelization of peoples propose names to the pope for episcopal appointments around the world, in a process that screens for orthodoxy and loyalty to the pope.
From at least the time of Constantine, the papacy has been an instrument of political legitimacy in Europe. This has given the Church political power, which it often used for good—to mediate disputes, insist on the observance of law, and protect the powerless—but sometimes used for evil—to suppress heresy and enrich itself. This power and wealth, however, made it a target of political intervention, whether imperial, feudal, or totalitarian. Beginning with Leo XIII in the nineteenth century, the Church began developing a social teaching that was more appropriate for a pluralistic democratic world. The contemporary political role of the papacy was epitomized in John Paul II (1920–2005), who through his support of Solidarity and the Polish freedom movement began the landslide that wiped out communism in Eastern Europe and ultimately the Soviet Union. He was also an outspoken defender of religious freedom, human rights, refugees, migrants, the environment, and the unborn. He spoke of the responsibility of the rich to help the poor and advocated forgiveness of Third World debt. He opposed both Persian Gulf wars. He was critical of unbridled capitalism and a culture of individualism, greed, and consumerism. Although lacking the political skills of John Paul, Benedict XVI (b. 1927) has not strayed far from his foreign policy positions.
Papal opposition to birth control and abortion have been controversial. While most Catholic moral theologians oppose abortion, a number consider making it illegal a debatable issue. John Paul did not shrink from giving Communion to pro-choice Italian politicians, although this became an issue for a few U.S. bishops in 2004. Most theologians, priests, laypeople, and even some bishops do not accept the pope’s teaching on birth control, with the result that many Catholic countries such as Italy and Spain now have falling birthrates. Also controversial both inside and outside the Church has been the questioning of condoms as a means of fighting AIDS. This dissent on Church teaching led the Vatican to investigate, reprimand, and silence many priest theologians. It also led to the appointment of bishops known for their loyalty and support for Church teaching. But with the exception of abortion, birth control, and condoms, the Vatican’s position of international issues has been far to the left of most American politicians.
SEE ALSO Politics; Religion; Roman Catholic Church
Beal, John P., James A. Coriden, and Thomas J. Green, eds. 2000. New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law. New York: Paulist Press.
Graham, Robert. 1959. Vatican Diplomacy: A Study of Church and State on the International Plane. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
John Paul II. June 28, 1988. Pastor Bonus. Vatican City: Apostolic Constitution. http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_constitutions/documents/hf_jp-ii_apc_19880628_pastor-bonus-index_en.html.
Reese, Thomas J. 1996. Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Thomas J. Reese S.J.
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Vatican City an independent papal state in the city of Rome, the seat of government of the Roman Catholic Church. It covers an area of 44 hectares (109 acres) around St Peter's Basilica and the palace of the Vatican. Having been suspended after the incorporation of the former Papal States into Italy in 1870, the temporal power of the Pope was restored by the Lateran Treaty of 1929.
Vatican Council each of two general councils of the Roman Catholic Church, held in 1869–70 and 1962–5. The first (Vatican I) proclaimed the infallibility of the Pope when speaking ex cathedra; the second (Vatican II) made numerous reforms, abandoning the universal Latin liturgy and acknowledging ecumenism.
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