Spokesman: Peter Needs His Little State

Father Lombardi Analyzes Vatican City’s 80 Years

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 23, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Vatican City State, created 80 years ago, guarantees the papacy’s independence and autonomy as a global spiritual authority, says a Vatican spokesman.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, commented on the anniversary of the Lateran Accords between the Holy See and Italy during the most recent edition of Vatican Television’s «Octava Dies.»

This agreement, which created Vatican City State, recognizes the Pope’s «complete sovereignty over the tiny state, from which he has been able to govern the universal Catholic Church with complete freedom without any condition on the part of the Italian government,» the spokesman explained.

Father Lombardi observed that with this agreement, «there ended a period of grave tension between the papacy and Italy that had begun after the dissolution of the Papal states and the unification of Italy in 1870.»

The priest added that there have recently been important cultural exhibits in Rome that have highlighted the «crucial role of Pope Pius XI in the agreement between the Holy See and Italy and the creation of the necessary structures for the functioning of the new state.»

The spokesman said that in these celebrations, in which the Pope participated, «there has been rightful insistence on the fact that the recognition and the international status of the Holy See, as center and guide of the Church, does not depend on the existence of the little state.»

He continued: «On the contrary [this city state] exists and must exist because the papacy is a spiritual and moral authority of global importance and must be able to exercise its functions without any earthly ambitions for power, but with complete independence and autonomy.

«Why is it a good thing that the Pope resides in the Vatican, that his little state is here and not elsewhere? The reason is simple: Here Peter suffered martyrdom, here he died, and here is his tomb to which the faithful from all over the world come on pilgrimage.

«‘Petros eni, Peter is here,’ is written on the ancient wall that is right below the central altar of [St. Peter’s] Basilica, under the great cupola. This is why the Successor of Peter is here and leads the Church from here, from Vatican City.»

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