The Jesuit New World Order

Saturday, 27 October 2012

The Vatican’s triple crown: church, government and state

The Vatican is inserted into the international community because it is a state; once there, it behaves like a church.[1]  By setting up three legal identities and then adroitly switching from one to another, the Vatican has obtained unprecedented legal rights and international influence. This article has been translated into Portuguese.


How hat tricks led to national status
The post office and radio station gave the Vatican State
membership in two international organisations. This, in turn,
allowed the Holy See (the
government of this plot of land,
which is also the Church hierarchy), to get
permanent observer
status at the United Nations in 1964. This gave the Vatican an
unbroken presence there and let it participate fully and vote
in most UN conferences, all of these invaluable lobbying tools.
 
The Vatican State has set up its structures on our territory”, announced an indignant Russian newscaster. But he was quickly informed that this was not at all the case — heavens, no — the Vatican was acting, not as a state, but as “a religious centre” [2] Yet when the Orthodox clergy grumbled about Greece sponsoring the visit of a religious rival, their government was able to retort that — heavens, no — the Pope was acting not as a religious leader, but as a head of state. [3] On the other hand, when asked why the Pope wasn't attending a state dinner, the Vatican spokesman “explained that the Pontiff is a religious leader, not a political one”. [4] Yet in 2005 Archbishop Lajolo, the Vatican Foreign Minister, apparently told Del Ponte, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, that he was powerless to help locate a war criminal believed to be hiding in a monastery, because the Vatican was not a state. [5]
The Vatican — or Holy See, as it is officially known — performs this identity switch on a regular basis: 
In recent years the Holy See has, when convenient, both asserted and renounced its statehood. Recently, and nearly simultaneously, the Holy See claimed statehood to ask for diplomatic immunity from sex abuse cases in the United States while denying statehood to refuse cooperation with the International Criminal Court. Often, when denying its state status, the Holy See instead claims to be a religious institution, accompanied by demands that the First Amendment of the United States Constitution protect the actions of the church after claims that members of the hierarchy mismanaged allegations of sexual abuse. [6]
In fact, the Vatican actually has, not two, but three persona, and all are separate legal entities.
The Pontiff’s “triple crown” can serve to remind us of his role as primate of the Church, as CEO of its government and as ruler of a pocket-sized principality. That is to say, he presides over three distinct entities:
  • The Roman Catholic Church, an international organisation claiming to provide exclusive access to or exemption from, as the case may be, of certain destinations in the hereafter.
  • The Holy See, an absolute monarchy, whose ruler appointed by God. The Holy See is, at the same time, the government of the Roman Catholic Church and also of the Vatican State.
     
  • The Vatican State, (officially “State of the Vatican City”), a country of less than half a square kilometre (the smallest in the world) with less than 600 citizens, most of them clergy or Swiss Guards.
We can begin this tale of multiple identities with the unification of Italy in 1870. That was when the Papal States were overrun by Italian troops and the Pope lost his kingdom in Central Italy. Early in the next century, however, with the help of Pope Pius XI, Mussolini came to power. In 1929 the Italian government made the Lateran Treaty with the Church government, the Holy See, which gave it back enough land to create the smallest country in the world, the Vatican State.

Although the Vatican once more had a plot of land to call its own, it had learned a valuable lesson: that territory may be confiscated, but a government can survive, even in exile. This is especially true of the Holy See which is both the government of the Vatican State and of a church which influences the minds of more than a billion people. This disembodied “government” offers a more secure base than real estate alone. In fact, probably as a response to 
objections to the Vatican being treated as a country, they neatly define themselves as eternal:
Canon 113.1 makes clear that “the Catholic Church and the Apostolic See have the nature of a moral person by divine law itself”. “That means that the Holy See, [...] will endure, even if it were to be reduced to its simplest expression in the person of the Pope and even to the end of time.” [7]
This Church “government”, the Holy See, is careful to hold the Vatican State at arm’s length as a “vassal” territory, rather than ruling it directly. [8] When it acts on the international stage the Vatican takes the additional precaution of appearing in the guise of the Holy See, a non-territorial entity, rather than as the Vatican State. This keeps its international presence and privileges from having to depend upon a plot of land defended by a hundred and ten men armed with pikes. (A former guardsman says that their arsenal now includes tear gas and pepper spray in order to protect the Holy Father from “religious fanatics”.[9])
It is the Holy See as government of the Church and not of the Vatican State, that takes up diplomatic relations with other countries. However, this mini-state isn’t big enough to hold the foreign embassies, which are located in Rome outside its borders. Italy actually hosts its own Embassy of Italy.
The Vatican State is also so small that it can't accommodate the patriarchal basilicas in Rome, let alone the pope's summer residence at Castel Gandolfo and therefore it has arranged for extra-territorial privileges (similar to those enjoyed by foreign embassies in a host country [10]) at 28 places in Italy.  Even so, the tiny Vatican State has proved invaluable as a springboard into international diplomacy. If it weren’t for the Vatican State, the Holy See’s diplomacy could hardly be expected to function in practical terms.
This diplomatic exchange works both ways. The Holy See runs its own diplomatic service, with “Apostolic Nuncios” serving as accredited ambassadors to countries round the globe. The pope also makes “state visits”. Paul VI, “the Pilgrim Pope”, became the first pontiff to visit five continents, while John Paul II managed to visit 130 countries. Here, as usual, the different roles are adroitly combined. As “pilgrimages” these trips are liturgical spectacles – and as “state visits” they get paid for by the host country.
...The advantages sovereign state status confers, including banking unsupervised by any banking authority, the ability to issue passports, the granting of diplomatic immunity and membership of international organisations at the state level, should not be underestimated. [11]
 In 2005 the Vatican used its diplomatic status as the basis for a protest to the US Government. It reminded the Americans that the Holy See was a “sovereign entity” and suggested that they “recall the immunity for its acts that international law anticipates.” [12] Here the Holy See was actually invoking “diplomatic immunity” to try to keep the Church from having to pay damages to children abused by its own priests. [13] And in September 2005 “the U.S. Justice Department […] told a Texas court that a lawsuit accusing Pope Benedict XVI of conspiring to cover up the sexual molestation of three boys by a seminarian should be dismissed because the pontiff enjoys immunity as head of state of the Holy See.” [14]  The Supreme Court has refused to review whether the Vatican is a sovereign state and therefore has broad legal immunity from prosecution over the sexual abuse of minors by priests in the United States. [15] This means that suits against the Vatican in the US can only be pursued under an exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976, one involving employees acting within the scope of their employment. [16]
The Vatican diplomatic apparatus has another important function. It allows the negotiation of  with other sovereign states in order to secure privileges for the Church. Only low-level agreements are signed by bishops from the Church. The more important ones, intended to have with international force, are signed by ambassadors from the Holy See or even by Vatican officials like the Secretary of State. Such “treaties” (called “concordats”) lay claim to be international law. This allows them to override national legislation. And this means that privileges, once granted to the Church, are removed from democratic control – forever. [17]
 But perhaps the greatest benefit from posing as a government is the wedge this has given the Vatican to infiltrate the United Nations. To accomplish this, it has skilfully exploited its three legal identities for the past 75 years. Finally the goal of full membership seems almost within its grasp.
In 1929, the very year it was founded, the Vatican State joined the Universal Postal Union, and later on, the International Telecommunications Union, as well. [18] Membership in these international bodies then allowed the Holy See in 1957 to get “observer” privileges at the United Nations (as opposed to the mere “consultative status” accorded to most non-governmental organizations – including other religions). [19] In 1964 it managed to have these privileges upgraded, when the Holy See acquired “permanent observer” status at the UN. This permitted an unbroken presence at the UN and access to all UN forums. Both of these are invaluable for lobbying at important UN events such as the Conference on Population and Development. [20]
This conference was strategic for the Vatican, since developing nations rely heavily on the UN to help out with social services. As a result, people living in these countries, regardless of their religious affiliation, are increasingly subject to Catholic agencies which enforce Church dogma – and these policies condemn millions to unwanted pregnancies and AIDS. [21]
As if that weren’t enough, the Vatican let it be known in 2003 that it would be open to becoming a full member of the UN. [22] The attempt proved premature and, threatened with an embarrassing challenge to its statehood, the Vatican backed off and the next year accepted a more modest upgrade. It obtained “enhanced observer status”, which has been likened to a “full member state, just without the vote.” This now lets it take part in General Assembly debates and exert still more Church influence. As the Vatican’s Permanent Observer at the UN remarked serenely, “We have no vote because this is our choice.” [23] At the same time he noted pointedly that this latest move “does not close any path for the future.” [24] Meanwhile, the lack of a vote has not prevented the Vatican from taking an active part in meetings of UN groups such as the Commission on the Status of Women. There in 2012 a group of conservative states managed to prevent a decision to put gays' and womens' rights above the forces of "tradition". One wonders who organised this coalition.... [25]
Meanwhile the Vatican continues its manoeuvring. It tries, for instance,  to use UN conferences to work its way by degrees into full membership. Angry demands to be included as full participants in conferences are meant to set precedents. [26] And, in addition, already its participation in key UN conferences has allowed it to block some attempts to let the world's women plan their families. The triple-tiered Papal headgear is being used to engineer a major human tragedy.


The Roman Catholic Church is a cross between a nation state and a multinational corporation with branches almost everywhere.

The first article of its Constitution gives absolute power to the Pope. There is neither appeal nor recourse against a decision or decree of the Roman Pontiff. (Canon 333 § 3)
— Jeffrey Nicholls [27]

Related

♦  How the Lateran Treaty made the Catholic Church into a state
♦  Concordat negotiations with Mussolini: “God to Italy and Italy to God”
♦  Canon Law in action: Was the Papal State a “perfect society”?

Notes

1. The Tablet, (British Catholic weekly newspaper), 17 September 1994, quoted in Peter Hebblethwaite, “Vatican's vaunted diplomacy a no-show; moral absolutes trip pope's negotiators at U.N. meeting in Cairo”, National Catholic Reporter, 7 October 1994. http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1141/is_n43_v30/ai_15818453
2. “Russia: Varied State Response to Orthodox-Catholic Rift”, Keston News Service, 22 February 2002. http://www.religioscope.com/info/notes/2002_017_russia_ortho_catho.htm
3. “God’s ambassadors”, The Economist, 19 July 2007. The occasion was the 2001 trip of John Paul II. 
http://www.economist.com/world/international/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9516461
4. “Vatican Not Sweating UK Protests”, Zenit, 10 September 2010. http://www.zenit.org/article-30317?l=english
5. Carla Del Ponte, Madame Prosecutor, 2008, p. 268.
6. Jon O’Brien, “Catholics for Choice Statement on the 80th Anniversary of the Lateran Treaty”, 10 February 2009. http://www.catholicsforchoice.org/news/80thanniversary.asp. Also in a Polish translation: http://www.racjonalista.pl/kk.php/s,6357/
7. Lecture by Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran on the theme “The presence of the Holy See in the international organizations”, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan, 22 April 2002. http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/secretariat_state/documents/rc_seg-st_doc_20020422_tauran_en.html
8. “Church or State? The Holy See at the United Nations”, Special Report, Center for Reproductive Law & Policy, July 1994. http://www.population-security.org/crlp-94-07.htm
9. Karl-Heinz Früh quoted by John Tagliabue, “Swiss Guard marks 500 years as popes' potted plants”, New York Times, 18 November 2005. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/18/international/europe/18swiss.html
10. In re Moriggi, Italy, Court of Cassation, Case No. 172, 22 March 1939.
In 1939 one Mr. Moriggi was convicted in an Italian court for stealing from the Lateran Museum, whereupon he argued that Italy couldn't punish him, as the Museum was an extraterritorial part of the Vatican State. The court rejected this and, in so doing, explained the legal nature of the Vatican's extraterritorial holdings in Italy.

[These are] the property of the Holy See (Article 13 of the Treaty of 1929 between the Holy See and Italy), but [form] part of the territory of the Italian State (Article 15). [They enjoy] only such immunities as are granted by international law to the official residences of the diplomatic agents of foreign States. The properties used as residences of such agents are territory of the State in which they are situated and crimes committed therein must be regarded as crimes committed in the territory of that State. 
11. David Ranan, Double Cross: The code of the Catholic Church, London, 2006, pp. 24-25.
12. Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls quoted by John L. Allen Jr, “Vatican asks Condoleezza Rice to help stop a sex abuse lawsuit”, National Catholic Reporter, 3 March 2005. http://nationalcatholicreporter.org/update/bn030305.htm
13. In August Archbishop Levada “decided [!] to honour a subpoena he was served [thereby], accepting the jurisdiction of U.S. courts. He had previously refused to agree to jurisdiction and other conditions”. “Archbishop to turn doctrinal watchdog will answer on abuse”, Associated Press, 11 August 2005. http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-08-11-archbishop-abuse_x.htm?POE=NEWISVA
14. “Feds say pope immune from sex-abuse lawsuit”, Associated Press, 21 September 2005. http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/news.aspx?id=15813
15. “Vatican US child sex abuse cases 'falling apart' ”, Agence France Presse, 10 August 2010. http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jNz1I1Vw9kBCKSWPDqPFQ55HSvcg
16. “Ruling on priest abuse called 'breakthrough' ”, Star Tribune (Minneapolis), 28 June 2010. http://www.stltoday.com/news/national/article_6e8733a2-832a-11df-9471-0017a4a78c22.html
17. Muriel Fraser, “What are Concordats?” Concordat Watch. http://www.concordatwatch.eu/showtopic.php?org_id=871&kb_header_id=822
19. David Nolan, “The Catholic Church at the United Nations: Church or State?” 21 February 2001. http://www.catholicsforchoice.org/news/op-eds/2001/20010221churchorstate.asp
20. See three articles by Jennifer Butler, who got an inside view through her work for the Presbyterian Church USA’s UN Office:
21. “Church or State? The Holy See at the United Nations”, Special Report, Center for Reproductive Law & Policy, July 1994. http://www.population-security.org/crlp-94-07.htm
22. “Vatican Is Open to Becoming a Full Member of U.N.”, Zenit, 21 September 2003. http://www.zenit.org/article-8213?l=english
23. Serra Sippel, “UNfulfilled: The Holy See Backs off From Its Claim for Full Membership of the UN, Settling for the Rights Already Held by Palestine”, Conscience, Winter 2004-05. http://www.catholicsforchoice.org/conscience/archives/c2004win_unfulfilled.asp
24. “Vatican’s Role at UN Expanded”, Catholic Family and Human Institute, 17 July 2004. http://catholicexchange.com/vm/index.asp?art_id=24569
25. “UN women's commission rejects expansion of 'reproductive rights'”, Catholic News Agency, 3 April 2012. http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/un-womens-commission-rejects-expansion-of-reproductive-rights/
26. For a rare description of Vatican manoeuvring see “Day Two: Palestinian Issue Continues to Vex Arms Trade Treaty Conference”, Ted R. Bromund, Ph.D., Heritage Foundation blog, 5 July 2012. http://blog.heritage.org/2012/07/05/day-two-palestinian-issue-continues-to-vex-arms-trade-treaty-conference-2/  And when the Vatican won only a partial victory - participation in the discussion, but not as a recognised member - it was claimed that the Vatican had been "sidelined": “Vatican, sidelined at UN conference, backs arms-trade treaty”, Catholic World News, 27 July 2012.  http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=15067
27. Jeffrey Nicholls, “The Roman Catholic Church”, 2008. http://www.naturaltheology.net/Essays/stolenGod2008.html#The%20Roman%20Catholic%20Church


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