From correspondents in Vatican City
01 July 2003
THE Vatican is seriously considering whether to apply to become a full member of the United Nations instead of just an observer, as at present, the Pope's top diplomat Jean-Louis Tauran said today.
"We will have to weigh carefully the consequences and the advantages and disadvantages of such a step," he told a press conference.
"We are at the stage of elaborating the project, which is currently being studied by lawyers in the (Vatican) State Secretariat."
The Holy See is currently represented at the UN in New York by its permanent observer, Papal Nuncio Celestino Migliore.
But Tauran, secretary for relations with states of the Holy See, cautioned that no decisions had yet been taken on whether the Vatican should acquire full UN membership.
The Vatican, the seat of the Roman Catholic church, was created in 1929 under the terms of a treaty with Italy's then fascist government under Benito Mussolini and is the world's smallest fully independent nation-state.
It is a monarchical-sacerdotal state whose head of state is the head of the Roman Catholic Church. The pope appoints the head of government, known as the secretary of state, and his cabinet, known as the pontifical commission.
The Holy See maintains permanent observers at the United Nations in New York and Geneva and at the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation UNESCO, and its Food and Agriculture Organisation.
Note: It is unlikely the Vatican would reduce itself to the level of a 'mere' UN member state as it has always considered itself above all powers, principalities, and civil rulers, and above all human judgement. But it is history that shall be the final judge in the scales of justice.
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