The Holy See Commemorated a Trio of Anniversaries in 2014 | Vincenzina Santoro | CWR
This past year witnessed the 85th anniversary of the Lateran Pacts, the 50th anniversary of the Holy See presence at the UN, and the 30th anniversary of the restoration of full diplomatic recognition by the US
In 2014, the Holy See observed three major historical milestones, all of which were virtually ignored in the global press. This past year marked the 85th anniversary of the Lateran Pacts establishing sovereignty for Vatican City State, the 50th anniversary of the Holy See presence as Permanent Observer at the United Nations and the 30th anniversary of the restoration of full diplomatic recognition by the United States.
These key historical events are very important in the life of the Catholic Church as they helped to spread the influence of the Vatican as a force for morality and reason while maintaining neutrality in political affairs. The three milestones have helped provide the Church with complete and universally recognized sovereignty, to accompany her unique blend of temporal and spiritual power.
The historical setting
On February 11, 1929, Vatican City State became a full sovereign state under Pope Pius XI as his Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Gasparri, and Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini, signed the Lateran Pacts. It put an end to the “Roman Question” that arose with the annexation of the Papal States in 1861 at the time of Italian unification and the subsequent fall of Rome in 1870.
The three Pacts took their name from the Lateran Palace where they were signed. They included a political treaty with Italy recognizing the sovereignty of the Vatican, a Concordat to regulate religion and the Church in Italy, and a financial convention to settle financial claims stemming from the loss of temporal power in 1870.
Previously, relations between the Church and Italy were covered by the “Law of Guarantees” approved by the Italian Parliament on May 13, 1871, but not recognized by any of the Popes. Under the new treaties, the Vatican was recognized as an independent territory, taking its place in the global roster of nations. Thus the Vatican gained sovereignty over a territory of 109 acres (44 hectares).
The Pope acquired complete jurisdiction over St. Peter’s Basilica and Square, the Vatican Gardens, the palace at Castel Gandolfo and assorted properties scattered about Rome that were given “extraterritoriality” status. Vatican City State is governed as though it were a monarchy with the Pope as Head of State. The pontiff holds executive, legislative and judicial powers.
Vatican City has its own flag, issues its own euro coins and stamps (both prized by collectors), owns radio and TV stations, and participates in various international organizations such as the Universal Postal Union (UPO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
Vatican City State is the independent, territorial base for the Holy See. An important distinction is in order: