When the Pope’s ruled the Papal States in Italy those states were the most criminal in all the world.
The Papal States had a tortuous history.
On the collapse of the administrative system of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century, the Bishop of Rome remained the sole surviving power, worthy of any respect, coming down from the former times. Both form a religious and from a political point of view, therefore, the times were favourable for a growth of his influence. At the end of the sixth century Roman See was possessor of large landed estates in Italy and Sicily Pops Stephen II (he died before consecration. so in some lists of Popes his name is left out, A.D. 752) appealed for aid to the warrior-king of the Franks against the invading Lombards. In 754 Pepin the Frank crossed the Alps, defeated the Lombards, and gave to the Papacy the exarchate of Ravenna (formerly the Italian outpost of the Greek Emperor). This was the real beginning of the Papal States ("States of the Church"), though, in the Middle Ages, a legend grew up that Constantine, the first Christian Roman Emperor, had made in favour of the Pope an "Edict of Donation," conferring on Pope Silvester I the City of Rome and other territories. This "Donatio Constantini" was a mere fiction.
After the donation of Pepin, the Popes received other extensive gifts. In 1115 the Countess Matilda of Tuscany gave to Pope Gregory V11 large districts in Southern Tuscany.
However, contests arose with the Hohenstaufen German Emperors, who aimed at power in Italy, and this series of contests went on till the ruin of the Hohenstaufens after the contests of the passionate Frederick II. At the accession of the House of Hapsburg in 1273 Italy was lost to the Empire, and the greatest rival of the Popes disappeared. Rudolf of Hapsburg, the new Emperor, guaranteed to the Pope the quiet possession of the Papal States.
In 1305 the Papacy moved to Avignon, and remained there for seventy years, till 1378 (the "Babylonish Captivity"). During that exile the Papal States were the scene of endless confusion. The return to Rome resulted in the Great Schism of the West (1378-1417), owing to the French Cardinals electing a rival Pope to the Roman one.
Julius II (1503-1513) was a warlike Pope, and he deposed Caesar Borgia from pre-eminence over the other princes of central and northern Italy. Julius also defeated the Venetians and recovered Bologna and Fermo for the Roman See, which in 1596, and in 1631, also gained Ferrara and Urbino. The Papal States were then what they were to remain till the French Revolution. In 1797, however, Napoleon Bonaparte seized the Legations, Bologna, Ferrara, and Romagna. Later, that conqueror also took possession of the rest of the Papal States, and Pops Pius VII excommunicated him. Napoleon then made the Pope a prisoner, first at Savona and then at Fontainebleau. On the fall of Napoleon, the Pope was restored to a territory undiminished from what it had been before the wars. However, the movement for the creation of a United Italian Kingdom than arose. In 1846 Pope Pius IX was elected, and at first was hailed as a "reformist Pope." Political agitation, however, compelled him to fly to Gaeta (1848), and, on his return next year, he was a stern reactionary. His temporal rule over the States now depended on the support of a French army of occupation. In 1859 Austria, which held much Italian territory, was defeated by France at Solferino. In the resultant confusion the Prince of Piedmont seized Tuscany, the Legations, Modena, Parnra. and Naples, from the Pope. All that now remained to the latter was "the Patrimony of St. Peter," extending along the coast north of Rome for about fifty miles. In 1870 (just at the time when the Vatican Council was defining the doctrine of Papal Infallibility) war broke out between France and Prussia. The French army of occupation was thus obliged to leave Rome. Thereupon the Piedmontese entered Rome (September 20, 1870) and declared it the capital of United Italy.
Pope Pius IX refused to recognize this act as legitimate. He retired into the Vatican, declaring himself a prisoner. He refused to accept an allowance offered by the Italian Government under its Law of Guarantees. His protest was continued by his successor. Leo XIII, and by the two next Popes. Pius X and Benedict XV.
It became more and more obvious as years passed, however, that the restoration of the old Ecclesiastical States, or even of only Rome, was out of the question. Ecclesiastical politicians, therefore (for example, the English Cardinal Bourne in 1911), increasingly laid stress on the contention that all the Pope required was sufficient guarantee, by some plain political status, that he is independent of other rulers.
After the Great War of 1914-1918 a period of confusion in Italy was followed by the accession to power of a Fascist dictatorship under Benito Mussolini in 1921. When time enough had elapsed to show that that regime promised to remain in power, negotiations were opened up between it and the Pope to settle the "Roman Question." Ultimately (February 1929) a Treaty was signed, in which the Pope formally gave up all claim to the old territories, and. in return, was recognized by Italy as sovereign of the "Vatican City State" (Citta dal Vaticano) consisting of the Vatican Palace, its grounds, and a few buildings in Rome. A decree, signed by the Pope on January 2, 1931, established the monetary system of the Vatican city. The silver ten-lire pieces carry an image of the Pope on one side and of the Virgin Mary on the other, while gold coins have a figure of Christ with a halo on the opposite side.
The Treaty (Treaty of the Lateran) was accompanied by a Concordat regulating the affairs of the Roman Catholic Church in all Italy. From the first, however. seeds of discord were implicit in the agreement, since Fascism sad the Papacy are both autocracies, and each aim at supremacy.
The crimes of the Papal States stained the Vatican deep scarlet in the most abominable crime wave the world had ever witnessed. The ‘Holy’ Pape ruled a most unholy Kingdom.
Recently the Pope and his government have been trying to paint their tiny Vatican City (all that is now left of the Papal States) as a city of holiness and perfection.
Writing from Rome, Peter Popham states:
A bid by the Vatican to expose some if its workings to public scrutiny backfired yesterday when La Stampa, a respected Italian daily, concluded that "the population of the Vatican would appear to be the most criminal and litigious in the world."
Vatican City, 106 acres in area and Europe's last remaining absolute monarchy, revealed that while it has a population of only 455, last year its miniature legal system hosted 397 civil cases and 608 criminal ones - two legal cases and nearly 1.5 crimes for every man, woman and child.
But as Gianluigi Marone, the state's top judge, pointed out, the explanation was that most of the petty offences were committed by outsiders. "The places most affected are the museums and the basilica of St Peters," he said, "through which millions of people pass every year."
These were the first judicial statistics published in the 74-year history of the Vatican as a sovereign state.
The publication was in response to criticism that the Vatican's processes are wrapped in deliberate mystification - criticism that peaked following the murder in 1998 of a Swiss Guard and his wife, followed by the suicide of another Swiss Guard, allegedly the murderer.
After the bodies were discovered there was an internal inquiry, but only a fraction of its findings were made public. A lawyer involved in the case said the Vatican legal system was marked by "secrecy, silence and abuse".
Publication this week of details of parking offences, petty fraud and shoplifting may be seen as a step in the right direction - though a very small and rather irrelevant one.
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