Vatican City Government and Politics

State and politics

Vatican City Country Flag

Reference: Vatican City Flag Meaning

According to, the Vatican City is a sovereign and internationally recognized state. The Pope is the head of state and at the same time bishop of Rome as well as the head of the Catholic Church. The papal office, the Holy See (Latin Seʹdes saʹncta), based in the Vatican City, has diplomatic representatives (nunts and pronunts) in more than 120 countries. These, like the Vatican’s foreign policy, are led by a secretary of state. It is also at the Holy See that other countries, including Sweden, have envoys. In daily speech, the term Vatican is used to denote both the state and the “chair”.

The Vatican City is ruled by the Pope, who is elected for life by the Conclave. This consists of the cardinals in the world who are under 80, around 120 people. The Pope appoints a papal commission headed by a president who oversees the administration of the Vatican. Also see AbbreviationFinder for abbreviation of VT and its meanings of Vatican. Despite its smallness, the Vatican State plays a significant political role in its role as the central leader of the worldwide Catholic Church. The central chair of the Holy See is the Pope with the Holy Cardinal College at his side. The Cardinals are appointed for life by the Pope. The Roman Catholic Church’s highest administrative leadership, the Curia, is made up of the Cardinals in Rome. They also function as the Pope’s court.

The Vatican State Bank, IOR (Italian Istituto per le Opere di Religione), is led by high priests. The capital is estimated at approximately $ 4 billion (1995). The bank manages investments in the world and also administers the “Petersen voltage”, ie. voluntary contributions from Catholics around the world.


The most important sources of law in the Vatican City are Codex juris canonici and various statutes issued by the Pope or after the Pope’s authorization. Italian law is a subsidiary (second-hand) source of law. The members of the Vatican City Courts, including a Court of Appeal, Sacra Romana Rota, are appointed by the Pope. The death penalty was abolished in 1969.

History and Politics

The origin

The apostle Peter is said to have been buried at the place where St. Peter’s Basilica is today. As early as 324, a church was built on this site, which was consecrated to Peter. The place became a place of pilgrimage. In 1507 this first church was demolished and replaced by St. Peter’s Basilica. Construction took many years and the new St. Peter’s Basilica was consecrated in 1626.

From around 600 the bishop of Rome called himself “Pope”. His claim to leadership was based on the fact that the apostle Peter was the first bishop of Rome. Jesus gave Peter and the latter the following bishops of Rome priority as leaders of all Christians.

The Papal State

After the Roman Empire fell, the popes claimed control of the area of ​​the city of Rome. In the year 754, the Frankish king Pippin III. the Pope land around Rome (Pippin’s donation). This donation became the basis of the Papal States. The residence of the Popes was initially the Lateran Palace (outside the Vatican).

The Vatican Hill did not become the seat of the Popes and the center of the Papal States until the 14th century. Now it has been expanded continuously. The construction of St. Peter’s Basilica began in 1507. Chapels, administration buildings, fortifications and accommodation were added. In 1589 the construction of the Apostolic Palace began.

The Papal States covered a much larger area than the Vatican today. In 1870 the Papal States became part of the Kingdom of Italy. Rome became the capital of Italy. The papal state no longer existed.

The Roman question

What was the status of the territory of the Vatican and thus the power center of the Catholic Church? This remained unresolved from 1870. This conflict is called the “Roman Question”. The seat of the Pope remained in the Vatican, but politically the Pope was disempowered. Pope at that time was Pius IX. However, he and his successors did not recognize this condition.

A new state emerges (1929)

It was not until 1929 that the status of Vatican City was clarified in the Lateran Treaties. The independence of the Vatican was now guaranteed by the Italian state, Rome remained the seat of the Italian government. In the same year, a new constitution came into force for the new Vatican City state.

The pope

The Pope is the head of state and has all state authority. If a Pope dies, the College of Cardinals will elect a Pope. The assembly of cardinals entitled to vote for the papal election is called a conclave. The laws and traditions of papal elections are sometimes centuries old.

The cardinals meet in the Sistine Chapel and are locked up until they have agreed on a pope. This is true when a candidate is elected Pope by a two-thirds majority. The ballot papers of all unsuccessful ballots are burned with wet straw, so that black smoke rises from the chapel. If the election is successful, dry straw with light fibers (tow) is burned, so that white smoke now rises and the world learns that a new Pope has been elected. Then it is announced: ” Habemus papam.” (We have a pope).

Vatican City Head of Government

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