Law Now Allows for Vatican Residents

1929 Code Replaced

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 2, 2011 ( A new law regulating Vatican citizenship and access entered into force Tuesday, replacing a 1929 measure.

Benedict XVI approved the law Feb. 22. It brings several modifications, notably greater restriction of vehicle access to Vatican grounds, and the possibility of gaining legal status as a Vatican resident, instead of a Vatican citizen.

Bishop Giorgio Corbellini, president of the Labour Office of the Apostolic See, told L’Osservatore Romano that an update to the Vatican’s citizenship law was needed, partially due to changes already enacted by Popes Benedict XVI and John Paul II. Additionally, the bishop noted, Vatican laws have to be adapted, considering the “profound changes that have taken place since 1929 up to today.”

The new law is simpler than its predecessor, exchanging the former 33 articles for 16.

Vatican citizenship — obviously obtained by concession, not birth — is given the pope, cardinals residing there, active members of the diplomatic corps and other directors of Vatican offices and services.

Now there will also be official Vatican “residents” — those who live on the grounds without being citizens.

In fact, at present the Vatican has more than 800 inhabitants, but only 572 citizens, of which only 220 dwell in the territory. The reason for the “diaspora” is that a good number of Vatican citizens are nuncios and diplomatic staff.

The new law will also restrict vehicle access to the Vatican, stipulating that only citizens, residents or those with a special permit can enter the state by car.

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