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March 2013

Vatican City/Holy See

Vatican City/Holy See

Pope Benedict XVI stepped down on February 28, 2013 (since April 19, 2005). On March 13, 2013 the Conclave of Cardinals elected Pope Francis I (Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, from Argentina). He is the 266th Pope and first to be selected from South America. The Pope Emeritus (Benedict XVI) will remain within the city for the remainder of his life.

The Holy See gained independence from Italy on February 11, 1929. 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. 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.

Present concerns of the Holy See include religious freedom, international development, the environment, the Middle East, China, the decline of religion in Europe, terrorism, 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 Holy See is about 0.7 times the size of The National Mall in Washington, DC. The Vatican City (formally The Holy See) is located within the city of Rome. It is the smallest state in the world. The climate is temperate, with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers. Its terrain is a low hill in an urban setting.

CIA World Factbook, 1/2013

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