Thursday, May 04, 2006
The origin of the Papal States, which over the years have varied considerably in extent, may be traced back to the 8th century. Popes in their secular role ruled portions of the Italian peninsula for more than a thousand years until the mid 19th century, when many of the Papal States were seized by the newly united Kingdom of Italy. In 1870, the pope's holdings were further circumscribed when Rome itself was annexed.
Disputes between a series of "prisoner" popes and Italy were resolved in 1929 by three Lateran Treaties, which established the independent state of Vatican City and granted Roman Catholicism special status in Italy. On 11 February 1929, three treaties were signed with Italy which, among other things, recognized the full sovereignty of the Vatican and established its territorial extent.
In 1984, a concordat between the Holy See and Italy modified certain of the earlier treaty provisions, including the primacy of Roman Catholicism as the Italian state religion.
The pope is elected for life by the College of Cardinals. When the election was last held (Tuesday, April 19, 2005. Benedict XVI), it attracted large crowds. Pope BENEDICT XVI's predcessor's Pope JOHN PAUL II's Coronation Day of 22 October 1978 was also a major event.
Present concerns of the Holy See include interreligious dialogue and reconciliation, and the application of church doctrine in an era of rapid change and globalization. About 1 billion people worldwide profess the Catholic faith.
The Vatican has a unique, noncommercial economy that is supported financially by contributions (known as Peter's Pence) from Roman Catholics throughout the world. It also sells postage stamps, tourist mementos and publications. Fees for admission to museums also go into church coffers.
Posted by Dario D'Onofrio at 5:34 AM