Religion & Society


By KING Oakwood
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The Vatican in Italy is also known as the Vatican City. It is regarded as the smallest sovereign state in the world. It has its own stamps, it issues passports and license plates. It operates media outlets and has its own flag and anthem. It has a population of citizens in the country. Though, several other visitors are coming into the city daily. Vatican City is house to some of the most prestigious, memorable, and famous buildings. Hence, it is the greatest motivation for the visitors. Some of the notable places in Vatican City is the St Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, and the Vatican Museums. Also, visitors are enticed to check out Vatican Gardens, Mosaic Studios, or the underground archeological excavations. This article shall examine a bit of the history of Vatican City in Italy and importantly, the current happenings in the Vatican. 
The currency of Vatican City is the Euro after they switched from lira. According to Wikipedia, The euro is the official currency of Vatican City, although Vatican City is not a member of the Eurozone or the European Union. In 2000, Italy and the Vatican City both signed a contract which allowed the Vatican to adopt the euro as its official currency as well, despite the Vatican notbeing a member of the European Union or Eurozone.
It is worthy of mentioning to say that Benito Mussolini signed Vatican City into existence. The Vatican became independent from Italy with the Lateran Treaty. The dispute between the Italian government and the Catholic Church ended in 1929 with the signing of the Lateran Pacts, which allowed the Vatican to exist as its own sovereign state and compensated the church $92 million (more than $1 billion in the current exchange rate) for the Papal States. The Vatican used the payment as seed money to re-grow its coffers. Benito Mussolini, the head of the Italian government, signed the treaty on behalf of King Victor Emmanuel III. The Holy See is the central governing body of the Catholic Church. A sovereign entity recognized by international law, consisting of the Pope and the Roman Curia.
The Vatican City operates an absolute monarchy with the Pope as its political and spiritual head. Vatican City government lacks taxation as a crucial government function. The politics of Vatican City is within the confines of a theocratic absolute elective monarchy, in which the Pope, being the leader of the Catholic Church and Bishop of Rome, exercises ex officio supreme legislative, executive, and judicial power over the Vatican. The style of monarchical government run in the Vatican is a rare case of a non-hereditary monarchy.
The Vatican budget comprises of the Vatican Museums. Her economy is run financially by the sales of stamps, coins, medals, and tourist mementos; by fees for admission to museums; and by publications sales. It is a mildly industrialized economy. Industries in the Vatican include printing, the production of mosaics, and the manufacture of staff uniforms. Also, there is the popular Vatican Pharmacy.
On the 23rd of October 2020, the Vatican issued a Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary on Plenary Indulgences for the deceased faithful in the current pandemic. A decree was issued to limit the number of faithful worshipers in the gathering of worship because of the laws of social distancing issued by the competent government in the decree due to the covid-19 protocols. 
According to CTV, on 4th November 2020, the Vatican announced that the Pope returns to a private library for the audience as Coronavirus surges in the Vatican City. The Pope, Pope Francis, advised people to follow recommendations from governments and health authorities to prevent coronavirus infections as he returned to his private library for his Wednesday general audience amid a surge of infections in Europe. In other news, there is a possibility for the Vatican to reenter a semi-lockdown mode again. The Holy See announced that it was shutting the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel to the public until at least Dec. 3. At the end of the Pope's time out on Wednesday with the audience, the Pope offered prayers for the victims of recent attacks in Europe. He cited the deadly Nice church attack and the Vienna shooting and denounced how some use violence and hatred to disrupt fraternity among people.
According to Catholic World Report, based on the news released on their site on November 6th, 2020. It was reported, that a search was carried out, on key figures in the Vatican financial scandal. It read Rome financial police executed a search warrant that week against three figures tied to the Vatican’s London property scandal.
In the report of Catholic World Report, "The homes, cars, and safety deposit boxes of Raffaele Mincione, Enrico Crasso, and Fabrizio Tirabassi were reportedly raided on the order of a Rome judge on Thursday, as part of the Vatican investigation into alleged fraud, money laundering, and extortion in connection to a luxury property development." In the same report, according to the Italian news agency Adnkronos, the offices of three companies connected to Mincione, Crasso, and Tirabassi in Rome, Milan, and Genoa also searched.
The report further stressed how the pope asked for the management and administration of the funds and investments to be given instead to APSA, which functions as the Holy See treasury and sovereign wealth manager, and also administers payroll and operating expenses for Vatican City.
The Pope's decision was outlined in an August 25th, 2020 letter to Cardinal Pietro Parolin. In the letter, made public November 5th in the same year, the pope asked for “particular attention” to be paid to two specific financial matters: “investments made in London” and the Centurion global investment fund. Pope Francis requested that the Vatican “exit as soon as possible” from the investments, or “at least dispose of them in such a way as to eliminate all reputational risks.”
The above report is on history and current happenings in and around the Vatican, Italy. Vatican City is undoubtedly a historical place to visit. Though it is the smallest country in the world, it still holds some of the memorable histories of the past. They operate a theocratic system of government with a blend of monarchical dimensions it is not devoid of the hassles in larger countries of the world. There is crime, politics, and businesses in Vatican City, Italy. 
Early this month, precisely November 5, the Pope moves against the secretariat of the state. Over a financial scandal. Though, the letter was delivered, on the 25th of August. Pope Francis has given the Vatican secretariat of state three months to transfer all of its financial holdings to another Vatican office following its bungled management of hundreds of millions of euros in donations and investments that are now the subject of a corruption investigation leveled against the secretariat of state.
Francis summoned the secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, his deputy, as well as the Vatican’s top finance officials for a meeting on Wednesday and gave them a three-month deadline to complete the transfer, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said. Pope Francis cited the reputational risks incurred by the department’s previous investments in speculative operations that have cost the Holy See tens of millions of euros, some of it from Peter Pence’s donations from the faithful.
This scandal has exposed the incompetence of the Vatican’s monsignors in managing money since they signed away voting shares in the deal and agreed to pay exorbitant fees needlessly to Italians who were known in business circles for their shady dealings.
One of the current news from the Vatican Pope Francis shared his experience with Corona Virus: "I know first-hand what coronavirus patients are going through." Pope Francis said he relates directly to COVID-19 sufferers given his near-fatal brush with death from a respiratory disease decades ago. Mr. Francis was hospitalized in his native Argentina in August 1957, when he came down with a lung infection. He was in his second year of seminary, aged 20. “For months, I did not know who I was if I was going to live or die. Not even doctors knew whether I would make it,” the 83-year-old pope recalled in a forthcoming book. “One day I asked my mother, hugging her, to tell me if I was going to die. “I know from experience how coronavirus patients attached to a ventilator are feeling while fighting to breathe,” he added.
The above quotes from a book due to be released Dec. 1, titled “Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future,” a book the Pope co-wrote with his English biographer, Austen Ivereigh, due to come out on Dec. 1.
Another news from the Vatican that is currently turning heads is the news that Pope Francis indicates support for same-sex civil unions based on a report from BBC. Pope Francis has said that he thinks same-sex couples should be allowed to have "civil unions". He made the comments, which observers say are his clearest remarks yet on gay relationships, in a documentary directed by Evgeny Afineevsky.
"Homosexual people have a right to be in a family," he said in the film, which premiered on Wednesday. "They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or made miserable over it. "What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered." He added that he "stood up for that", apparently referring to his time as Archbishop of Buenos Aires when, although opposing same-sex marriages in law, he supported some legal protections for same-sex couples. In another report base on public opinions, the conservatives fear that, since the Pope backed same-sex marriage that it may be legalized to conduct such a wedding in the church by the priest. The report also has it that, though the Pope backed same-sex marriages, it does not change the church doctrine.
November 20, the Vatican investigates Brazilian model Instagram photo likes. The Vatican has said it is investigating after the Pope's official Instagram account "liked" a photo of a scantily clad Brazilian model. There was a media uproar as a result of the emergence of the news. The Papal Press office told the BBC that "as far as we know the 'like' did not come from the Holy See." The Vatican was working with Instagram to establish where it came from, it added. The image has been unlike the account. Pope Francis' official Instagram account has 7.4 million followers worldwide.
There has been a new development since then from sources close to the Vatican press office. They told the Catholic News Agency on Tuesday that the accounts were "managed by a team of employees" and an internal investigation was now underway.
In another news on the BBC website on November 29 titled Wilton Gregory: Pope appoints first African American cardinal.  The news read; Pope Francis has appointed 13 new cardinals, including the first African American man to hold the role. Wilton Gregory was installed at a ceremony held in the Vatican, with participants donning face masks and some appearing via video link. The 72-year-old Archbishop of Washington DC was announced as one of the new cardinals last month. The African-American, Wilton Gregory, being a cardinal gives him the right to elect the next Pope. This is historical that a black man will be among the cardinals that will elect the next Pope. 
Cardinal Gregory is an ordained priest since the age of 25, he replaced Cardinal Donald Wuerl as Archbishop of Washington in May 2019. There is no doubt that Gregory, was appointed as the archbishop of Washington for being a prominent voice in the fight to root out abuse within the Church in the US. Before being announced as the cardinal, Wilton Gregory was the president of the US bishops' conference. He persuaded Church leaders to adopt tougher penalties for abusers in 2002. Cardinal Gregory is known to be critical of President Donald Trump. Over his use of rhetoric and constant visits to religious sites.
1. "Vatican Issues Euro Coins Featuring Pope Francis". KMBZ, 4 March 2014. (accessed 10 March 2014)
2. Shea, Alison. "Researching the Law of the Vatican City State". Hauser Global Law School Program. New York University School of Law. Archived from the original on 17 October 2013. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
3. Alessandro Speciale, "The Vatican Tribunal as a model of efficiency" inCatholic.net
4. Lizzie Davis (29 July 2013). "Pope Francis signals openness towards gay priests". The Guardian.
5. https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2020/11/06/searches-carried-out-on-key-figures-in-vatican-financial-scandal 
6. https://www.ctvnews.ca/mobile/world/pope-returns-to-private-library-for-audience-as-virus-surges-1.5174102 
7. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-55115243 
8. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-54627625 

The Scandals In Rome And What The Pope Is Doing To Stop Them

By Desiree Heiser
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There are many scandals that involve the Catholic Church but the most well known one is allegations of sexual abuse. There are numerous victims that are coming out to claim that they were sexually abused by their priest, etc. So one may ask what is the current Pope going to do about all of these allegations? How is he going to restore the credibility of the Roman Catholic Church? Here are some of the plans that he is going to do to help restore credibility to the Church.
He has acknowledged that the scandals have damaged credibility to the Church. The abuse scandals have been ongoing in the US specifically for about a year.  A Pennsylvania grand jury found over 300 cases spanning from several decades that no one discussed or seemed to want to dispel the rumors. So Pope Francis wrote a lengthy letter to his US Diocese about this scandal in hopes to gather as he termed it “a fraternity” to stop this abuse from occurring. He emphasizes that it is the church’s leaders responsibility to ensure that their patrons are protected.
One of Pope Francis’s cardinals in the US Diocese resigned last year because he was found to be one of the abusers in the ongoing scandal. Pope Francis strongly urges his Diocese and patrons to be more vigilant and help the victims so that the scandals will stop. By doing this they are hoping that their Diocese will be more comfortable coming forward to stop further abuse from occurring.  
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Pope Francis urges the abusers to come forward, turn themselves in to the appropriate authorities and accept responsibility for their actions. Pope Francis also says that it is the Church’s goal to make sure that none of this ever happens again and that the abusers need to receive justice for their actions. He also states that the wrongdoers actions affect the good priests/clergymen and gives the Roman Catholic Church a very bad reputation.
One may question why hasn’t anything been done previously? This abuse has been going on for so long so why now? Why has the Pope or the Vatican turned a deaf ear on all of this? Did they not have enough evidence or was it because they might not have believed the victims? One may not know or may have some conspiracy theories on all of this but one thing is clear. The abuse must stop! These victims are innocent children being molested by someone that they shouldn’t have to worry about. It is their priest or clergy and those men take an oath first of all to be celibate and secondly to make sure that their parishioners can trust them fully. 
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Pope Francis has stated that ignoring the cries of the victims must not happen anymore. That it is a huge mistake on their parts to ignore it all and now they must be held accountable for their actions. He has also thanked the news outlets and many other journalists for helping the victims to come out and make their voices heard and stand against their abusers.
In one new’s article it says that the Pope’s solution letter regarding the sex scandals had only reached Rome four days prior to the meeting which wasn’t enough time to properly read through it all, so the Vatican wasn’t able to come up with a solution. Due to this, the Pope lost two of his most valuable associates that would help him with media and other sources to come up with a solution. So if there isn’t a quick response coming from the Pope that would be why.
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So should the Pope get two more associates to help him with all of this controversy? I say yes, so that he can dispel all of this negative connotation regarding the Catholic Church and its parishioners. Let’s just hope with all of this coming to light that the Church can repair the damages that are done and become stronger and more unified with its patrons/parishioners. 
Also let’s hope and pray that justice is served to the poor families that are affected by this controversy. A Pennsylvania grand jury brought to light that there are more than 300 cases within the course of 70 years and that the offenders need to be punished. There are potentially even more than that but so far in the new’s articles those are the ones that are openly discussed. All those innocent victims of abuse need to be brought to justice and the priests/cardinals need to be stripped of their rights and be put in jail. The offenders preyed upon poor innocent children and they need to pay for what they did. 
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