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The foreign politics of the Vatican

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The State of the Vatican City is at the very least an atypical State: with its 600 inhabitants and its 44 hectares of surface, it is the smallest State of the world, and yet, it maintains the diplomatic relations with 174 countries. The Vatican is also the only one for its legal status on the international scenario: it is advisable to recall that it is not the State of the Vatican City, created in 1929, which is the subject to act in the international relations.

The Holy See is heard as the center of the government of the Catholic Church. Only the Saint Seat has the legal statute of entity of international law, which authorizes it to be expressed on the one hand for the State of the Vatican City and on the other hand for the moral authority and spiritual of the Church. In other words, the Vatican is not legally ready to follow a foreign policy; it is the Saint Seats who has the capacity of it.

This atypical nature should not however stop us: the Saint Seat follows foreign policies, which must be analyzed within the framework of the international relations. If one refers about it to the work of M.C. Smouts, D. Battistella and P. Venesseon, one will note that the analysis of the foreign policies of a State is more and more to be an analysis of the decision making of the executive. Thus, researchers (Allison, Putnam) focus their attention on the decision-making processes and the various influences which lead them to decide on the international scenario.

Unfortunately, it is important to note that this kind of analysis is hardly possible for the Vatican. How can one speak about the internal pressures when its population counts only 600 inhabitants? How then can one talk about discretionary decisions of the executive when the executive is the Pope, whose foreign policies are officially inspired by the Christian values only? The analysis of the foreign policies of the Vatican thus concerns various other problems.

At first, it may be appropriate to understand whether international relations are "the poor relation in the history of the Holy See" or if the diplomatic activity has always been central to the Pope. Then in a second step, it would be interesting to understand how the Vatican diplomatic tradition is consistent with contemporary international requirements.

On the death of John Paul II was indeed gladly recalled his role in the fall of communism, but the influence of the Holy See on the world stage does not end in 1989-1990, and the presence of many diplomatic corps at the funeral of Pope John Paul II is no coincidence, the Pope is welcomed both as a man of that church statesman, especially in senior diplomat.

Even before they had any real temporal power, that is to say of a state, the Papacy was represented in the most distant provinces of Rome by Vicarii Apostolici who was clothed with special powers over the other bishops in their area. Then in the fifth century, they were sent out as representatives of the Pope at the Emperors of Byzantium.

Tags: The Vatican; foreign policies; inspiration from Christian values; analysis of the foreign policies; tradition of Vatican diplomacy;

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