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Main page   Pontifex Maximus   The town and the world
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Portal Catholicism Town
The Bishop of Rome

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Coat of arms of the Holy See
Holy See

The Holy See (Latin: Sancta Sedes, "holy seat") is the episcopal see of Rome. The incumbent of the see is the Bishop of Rome — the Pope. The term Holy See, as used in Canon law, also refers to the Pope and the Roman Curia—in effect, the central government of the Catholic Church—and is the sense more widely used today.

Although every episcopal see is seen as holy and the Eastern Orthodox Church constantly applies the adjective "holy" or "sacred" (ἱερά) to all its sees, "the Holy See" (in the singular and with the definite article and no other specification) normally refers to the see of Rome, which is also called "the Apostolic See". While "Apostolic See" can refer to any see founded by any of the Apostles, the term is in this case used to refer to the see of the bishop seen as successor of the chief of the Apostles, Saint Peter.

The Pope governs the Church through the Roman Curia. The Roman Curia consists of the Secretariat of State, nine Congregations, three Tribunals, 11 Pontifical Councils, and a complex of offices that administer church affairs at the highest level. The Secretariat of State, under the Cardinal Secretary of State, directs and coordinates the Curia. The current incumbent, Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, is the Holy See's equivalent of a prime minister. Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary of the Section for Relations With States of the Secretariat of State acts as the Holy See's foreign minister. Bertone and Mamberti have been named in their respective roles under by Pope Benedict XVI in September 2006.

Among the most active of the major Curial institutions are the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which oversees church doctrine; the Congregation for Bishops, which coordinates the appointment of bishops worldwide; the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, which oversees all missionary activities; and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, which deals with international peace and social issues.

Three tribunals are responsible for judicial power. The Sacra Rota is responsible for normal appeals, including decrees of nullity for marriages, with the Apostolic Signatura being the administrative court of appeal and highest ecclesiastical court. The Apostolic Penitentiary is different from those two and, instead of dealing with contentious cases, issues absolutions, dispensations, and indulgences.

The Prefecture for Economic Affairs coordinates the finances of the Holy See departments and supervises the administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See, an investment fund dating back to the Lateran Pacts. A committee of 15 cardinals, chaired by the Secretary of State, has final oversight authority over all financial matters of the Holy See, including those of the Institute for Works of Religion, the Vatican bank.

The Prefecture of the Papal Household is responsible for the organization of the papal household, audiences, and ceremonies (apart from the strictly liturgical part).

Like any episcopal see, the Holy See does not dissolve upon the death or resignation of the reigning Pope. It instead operates under a different set of laws sede vacante. During this interregnum, the heads of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia (such as the prefects of congregations) cease to hold office immediately, the only exceptions being the Major Penitentiary, who continues his important role regarding absolutions and dispensations, and the Cardinal Camerlengo, who administers the temporalities (i.e., properties and finances) of the Holy See during this period. The government of the Holy See, and therefore of the Catholic Church, then falls to the College of Cardinals. Canon Law prohibits the College and the Camerlengo from introducing any innovations or novelties in the government of the Church during this period.

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Vatican City

Flag of the Vatican City
The State of the Vatican City is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome. At approximately 44 hectares (108.7 acres), it is the smallest independent nation in the world and is classified as a microstate. It was created in 1929 by the Lateran Treaty as a vestige of the much larger Papal States (756 to 1870). It is the sovereign territory of the Holy See and the location of the Apostolic Palace—the Pope's official residence—and the Roman Curia.
Vt-map

Capital: Civitas Vaticana, Città del Vaticano (Vatican City) Population: 783 inhabitants Area: 0.44 km2 Major language(s): Latin, Italian Major religion(s): Roman CatholicismVatican City, officially State of the Vatican City (Latin: Status Civitatis Vaticanae; Italian: Stato della Città del Vaticano), is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome. At approximately 44 hectares (108.7 acres), it is the smallest independent nation in the world.[1]

It was created in 1929 by the Lateran Treaty as a vestige of the much larger Papal States (756 to 1870). Vatican City is a non-hereditary, elected monarchy that is ruled by the Bishop of Rome — the Pope. The highest state functionaries are all clergymen of the Catholic Church. It is the sovereign territory of the Holy See (Latin:Sancta Sedes) and the location of the Apostolic Palace — the Pope's official residence — and the Roman Curia. Thus, while the principal ecclesiastical seat (Cathedral) of the Pope as Bishop of Rome (the Basilica of St. John Lateran) is located outside of its walls, in Rome, Vatican City can be said to be the governmental capital of the Catholic Church.

The name "Vatican" is ancient and predates Christianity, coming from the Latin Mons Vaticanus, Vatican Hill. The territory of Vatican City is part of the Mons Vaticanus, and of the adjacent former Vatican Fields where St. Peter's Basilica, the Apostolic Palace, the Sistine Chapel, and museums were built, along with various other buildings. The area was part of the Roman rione of Borgo until 1929. Being separated from the city, on the west bank of the Tiber river, the area was an outcrop of the city that was protected by being included within the walls of Leo IV, and later expanded by the current fortification walls of Paul III/Pius IV/Urban VIII. When the Lateran Treaty of 1929 that gave the state its present form was being prepared, the boundaries of the proposed territory was influenced by the fact that much of it was all but enclosed by this loop. For some tracts of the frontier, there was no wall, but the line of certain buildings supplied part of the boundary, and for a small part of the frontier a modern wall was constructed. The territory included St. Peter's Square, which was not possible to isolate from the rest of Rome, and therefore a largely imaginary border with Italy runs along the outer limit of the square where it touches on Piazza Pio XII and Via Paolo VI. St. Peter's Square is reached through the Via della Conciliazione which runs from the Tiber River to St. Peter's. This grand approach was constructed by Mussolini after the conclusion of the Lateran Treaty.

According to the Lateran Treaty, certain properties of the Holy See that are located in Italian territory, most notably Castel Gandolfo and the Patriarchal Basilicas, enjoy extraterritorial status similar to that of foreign embassies.[2][3]. These properties, scattered all over Rome and Italy, house essential offices and institutions necessary to the character and mission of the Holy See.[3]

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Portal Catholicism World
The worldwide church
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Catholic population
For the organization of the church in single countries see here

Canonically, each Catholic Church is sui iuris or autonomous with respect to other Catholic Churches, whether Eastern or Latin, though all accept the spiritual and juridical authority of the Pope. Thus a Maronite Catholic is normally subject only to a Maronite bishop, not, for example to a Ukrainian or Latin Catholic bishop. However, if in a country the members of some particular Church are so few that no hierarchy of their own has been established there, their spiritual care is entrusted to a bishop of another ritual Church. This holds also for Latin Catholics: in Eritrea, they are placed in the care of bishops of the Ethiopic Catholic Church. Theologically, all the particular Churches can be viewed as "sister churches." According to the Second Vatican Council these Eastern Churches, along with the larger Latin Church share "equal dignity, so that none of them is superior to the others as regards rite and they enjoy the same rights and are under the same obligations, also in respect of preaching the Gospel to the whole world (cf. Mark 16:15) under the guidance of the Roman Pontiff."

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Portal Catholicism West
Western Church

The Latin Rite is one of the 23 sui iuris particular Churches within the Catholic Church. This particular Church developed in western Europe and north Africa, where, from antiquity to the Renaissance, Latin was the language of education and culture, and so also of the liturgy.

The term "Latin Rite" was once clearly synonymous with "Western Church", a term that some continue to use exclusively of the Church in communion with the see of Rome. In this sense, "Western Church" is opposed to the "Eastern Catholic Churches" (plural), whose liturgies use the languages dominant in their areas at the time of their formation, or modern languages such as Arabic. However, except in the context of the Catholic Church, "Western Church" is most frequently understood as synonymous with "Western Christianity" and as opposed instead to "Eastern Christianity", making it necessary in such contexts to use the more specific term "Western Catholic Church". "Latin Church" is yet another term used for the particular Church in question. This term appears, for instance, in the opening canon of both the 1917 and the 1983 editions of the Code of Canon Law.

The Latin Church or Rite is now present in all continents and is the majority Rite or particular Church within the Catholic Church, comprising roughly 98% of its membership.

The term "Latin rite" is used also, in singular or plural ("a Latin rite" or "(the) Latin rites"), to refer to one or more of the forms of sacred liturgy used in different parts of this Latin Church. (See Latin liturgical rites.) They include the widely used Roman Rite, the Ambrosian Rite of Milan and neighbouring areas, and the Mozarabic Rite, in limited use in Spain, above all at Toledo. The Roman Rite replaced other Latin liturgical rites at various times: the Carolingian emperors favoured it in their territory; Pope Pius V in 1570 suppressed those with an antiquity of less than two centuries; and several religious orders abandoned theirs after the Second Vatican Council, when languages other than Latin began to be generally used in the Latin-Rite liturgies.

Some treat the term "Roman Catholic" as synonymous with "Latin Rite", a usage not found in official documents of the Catholic Church itself, such as the encyclicals Divini illius Magistri and Humani generis, in which "Roman Catholic Church" means the whole Catholic Church without distinction. Pope John Paul II too treated "Roman Catholic Church " as equivalent to "Catholic Church" in his talk at the general audience of 26 June 1985.

The Latin Church is distinguished from the other sui iuris Churches not only by the use of the aforementioned liturgies, but also by customs, practices and Canon law distinct from those of the Eastern Churches. Canon law for the Latin Church was codified in the Code of Canon Law, of which there have been two editions, the first promulgated by Pope Benedict XV in 1917, and the second by Pope John Paul II in 1983. The canon law that the Eastern Catholic Churches have in common has been codified in the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches of 1990.

In the Latin Church, Confirmation and Eucharist are normally administered only to people who have reached the age of reason, while in the Eastern Churches they are administered immediately after baptism, even for an infant. Celibacy is obligatory for priests in the Latin Church, though in the Eastern Catholic Churches ordination to priesthood (but not to the episcopate) may be conferred on married men. Bishops in the Latin Church are appointed by the Pope through the local Apostolic delegate and various dicasteries of the Roman Curia, while the synods of Eastern patriarchal and major archiepiscopal Churches elect bishops for their own territory (though not outside it), receiving from the Pope only letters of acknowledgement.

While the Eastern Catholic and Latin Rite Catholics all affirm the same dogmas, they have different traditions for describing such conce

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Portal Catholicism East
Eastern Churches

The Eastern Catholic Churches are in full communion of faith and of acceptance of authority of the see of Rome, but retain their distinctive liturgical rites, laws and customs, traditional devotions and have their own theological emphases. Terminology may vary: for instance, diocese and eparchy, vicar general and protosyncellus, confirmation and chrismation are respectively Western and Eastern terms for the same realities. The sacraments ("mysteries") of baptism and chrismation are generally administered, according to the ancient tradition of the Church, one immediately after the other. Infants who are baptized and chrismated are also given the Eucharist.

The Holy See's Annuario Pontificio gives the following list of Eastern Catholic Churches and of countries (or other political areas) in which they possess an episcopal ecclesiastical jurisdiction (date of reunion in parenthesis):


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