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83 U. Det. Mercy L. Rev. 729 (2005-2006)
The Position of the Holy See and Vatican City State in International Relations

handle is hein.journals/udetmr83 and id is 751 raw text is: The Position of the Holy See and Vatican
City State in International Relations
KURT MARTENS*
INTRODUCTION
From time to time, people wonder about the status of the Vatican.
After the death of Pope John Paul II, not only religious leaders, but also
heads of state and government officials traveled to Rome to attend his
funeral. The same occurred for the inauguration of his successor, Pope
Benedict XVI. How is it possible that a religious leader has the same
prerogatives of and is treated as a head of state? Some action groups and
some politicians will occasionally debate the status of the Vatican and urge
for a revision of that status. At present, Catholics for a Free Choice is still
campaigning to change the status of the Holy See at the United Nations.'
They claim that the Holy See represents a religion and not a country and
should therefore not be a Non-Member State Maintaining Permanent
Observer Mission at U.N. Headquarters. According to this campaign,
which started in 1999, the status of the Holy See at the United Nations
should be reduced to the status of a non-governmental organization
(hereinafter NGO). The campaign had quite an amount of world wide
press coverage. Supporters of the campaign wrote public opinions in
newspapers, sometimes asking for a revision of the status of the Vatican
and some governments were urged to break their diplomatic relations
between their country and the Vatican.2 Yet this is problematic, since a
country does not have diplomatic relations with the Vatican, but with the
Holy See. In another example in 2005, several members of the Dutch
House of Representatives - Van Bommel,3 Timmermans en Koenders4 en
Van der Laan5 - asked the Dutch minister of foreign affairs some questions
6
about alleged protection offered by the Vatican to a war criminal.
*Assistant Professor, School of Canon Law, The Catholic University of America.
1. This campaign has its own website: http://www.seechange.org.
2. Some Dutch members of the European Parliament called on the government of the
Netherlands to break diplomatic relations with the Vatican. L. van der Laan et al.,
Doorbreek machtspositie Vaticaan, TRouw, 18 Nov. 2000 (Neth.).
3. AANHANGSEL HANDEUNGEN H, No. 170 (2005-2006).
4. AANHANGSEL HANDELINGEN II, No. 171 (2005-2006).
5. AANHANGSEL HANDELINGEN 1I, No. 172 (2005-2006).
6. Carla del Ponte, the chief prosecutor of the United Nations international criminal
tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, was reported to have said that she believed the Vatican
was hiding Croatian general Ante Gotovina, indicted on charges of crimes against humanity

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