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State

Capital

Vatican

Vatican

Civitate Vaticano

Currency unit

euro

Connections

Italy

 Papacy

Population

Religion

 Rome

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

History

A mini-state. The Vatican City is the last remnant of the Pope's temporal domains. The Pope is the chief executive officer of the Roman Catholic Church.

It could be argued that the Vatican is the last territory of the Roman Empire. Its ruler the Bishop of Rome carries the Roman title of Pontifex Maximus - Chief Bridgebuilder (possibly, originally a shaman who in a trance could interpret the unseen world). During the period of the Roman Republic the holder of this office had supervised the pre-Christian religious ceremonies. The emperors from Augustus Caesar had held the office which was given to the bishop of Rome when the emperors became Christian and moved to Constantinople. On the fall of the empire in the west in the 5th century the power of the bishop of Rome over the territory of Italy and the former western empire grew. They adopted the title of Pope (father of the Church).

In Italy the Popes became rulers of the middle of the peninsula, an area called the Papal States. These were lost during the unification of Italy in 1860. The city of Rome was lost in 1870 and became the capital of Italy, rather than the Pope's headquarters.

The Popes were then confined to the buildings of their palace on the Vatican hill, protesting about the loss of their sovereign rights. It was Mussolini, the fascist ruler of Italy who confirmed their sovereign right to this area of Rome in 1929 and gave it the status of an independent state able to receive foreign embassies. Thus the present state is a sort of consolation for the loss of the several provinces that the Pope ruled as a sort of king. For most of its history the political role of the papacy was far more important than religion - many popes having no interest in religion, and going to war to defend their territories against such rulers as the Holy Roman Emperor and the king of Sicily..

The state consists of the buildings of the Vatican palace. It is the world headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. Perhaps the best modern analogy of its status is the UN building in New York which is also extraterritorial and not subject to United States law. The Pope and his assistants therefore are not subject to Italian law while they are in the Vatican.

The Pope also owns other estates outside the Vatican, including Castelgandolfo which is also sovereign.

Languages

Italian

Latin

German (formerly Polish)

 History

 Economics

 Green

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Politics

The Pope is absolute monarch of the Vatican and leader of the Roman Catholic Church. He is elected for life by the College of Cardinals, an oligarchy appointed by the Pope. No other form of election is used.

This system is similar to but older than the system formerly used to select the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (now dissolved).

 Interesting Reading

John Julius Norwich - History of the Popes



The Popes: A History

 History

 Politics

 Green

 Rights

Economics

Religion is the only business but there have been rumors of shady banking via the "Vatican Bank" (Institute for Religious Works) and the Italian underworld.

The Pope's income comes from offerings to churches throughout the world. The Vatican is rumored to be in financial difficulties, though it is also rumored to have large investments in Italy and other countries. Only the Pope and his close assistants know the truth as no public accounts are issued. A financial scandal involving the Banco Ambrosiano is believed to have lost a lot of money and also to have decreased the confidence of church members and therefore their contributions.

A few euro coins with Vatican insignia have been issued but they are rare.

The Vatican Bank is under suspicion for money laundering by Moneyval a Council of Europe counter-laundering organ.
Vatican Bank

 History

 Politics

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Green/Ecology

Are the world's ecological problems the result of some aspects of Christian teaching? Some thinkers say that the Christian emphasis on domination of the world by Mankind (alleged to be prescribed in the book of Genesis) has resulted in a devaluation of nature instead of being an autonomous entity of which humans are a part.

Pope John Paul the second perhaps tried to combat this idea. But he is not responsible for the teachings of other churches. However, he and his followers do try to prevent the use of contraceptives and therefore probably have some effect on the rate of population increase. Is he responsible for street children? (Nevertheless, in western countries Catholics have a similar birth rate to non-Catholics, which suggests that in practice they use the same methods). In the poorer countries people seem to take these rules seriously. Did this contribute to the problem in Rwanda? The Philippines is perhaps the most notorious of the Catholic countries with a huge population growth problem, leading to poverty and lack of development. Perhaps also Haiti.

Following the death of John Paul the second, people asked whether the new Pope Benedict (formerly Cardinal Ratzinger) would change the rules, but turned out to be a conservator of traditional church teachings. On 11 February, 2013, Pope Benedict announced he would retire as of the 28th of February, 2013.

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21/04/10

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