The Vatican

Piazza Pio XII, Rome

Our Roman Catholic Church is ministered by the Pope with a College of Cardinals, to a flock of more than a billion Roman Catholics from the Vatican City, a state within the city of Rome. The Lateran Treaty between Italy and the Holy See created an independent Vatican City in 1929. The Holy See maintains diplomatic relations with more than 150 countries; issues passports, coins, and stamps; has a radio station and a publishing house. Ceremonial and limited security duties are performed by the Pontifical Swiss Guard. John Paul II, the first non-Italian Pope in 455 years, was elected in 1978. The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI was elected head of the Roman Catholic Church and Vatican City in 2005 after Pope John Paul II's death.

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