Vatican City State

Vatican City State

Basic Data

Official Country Name: Vatican City State (Holy See)
Region (Map name): Europe
Population: 880
Language(s): Italian, Latin
Literacy rate: 100%

Upon resolving disputes with Italy, the State of the Vatican City ( Stato della Citta del Vaticano ) or The Holy See ( Santa Sede ) was founded February 11, 1929, creating an independent, landlocked entity essentially within Italy's own capital of Rome. Being the world's smallest physical state and with a 2001 estimated population of just 890, the ecclesiastical government of the Holy See still wields substantial influence due to the roughly 1 billion people worldwide professing Catholicism.

L'Osservatore Romano is the oldest press organization functioning for the Vatican. Founded July 1, 1861, under Pius IX, it became the official newspaper of the Holy See in 1885 under Leo XIII. It publishes weekly editions in French (since 1949), Italian (1950), English (1968), Spanish (1969), Portuguese (1970), and German (1971), with a monthly edition in Polish (1980).

As of 1991, the Vatican Information Service (VIS) of the Holy See Press Office publishes (in English, Spanish, French, and Italian) newsworthy content concerning the pope, the Catholic Church, and the state Monday through Friday of all months except August. Daily, before formal transmission, it faxes and e-mails subscribers the current day's content. Also, the Holy See Press Office daily produces the Holy See Press Office Bulletin (Italian; translations when available) available to all with a version under embargo that is available only to licensed journalists.

Vatican Radio began February 12, 1931, under Pope Pius XI and remains the sole radio station of The Holy See. Since its inauguration, the radio has been managed by the Jesuit order. Programs are broadcast in 34 languages and sent on shortwave (two), medium-wave (three), FM (four), satellite frequencies and on the Internet. Personnel from more than 60 nations staff the radio.

Vatican Television Center (CTV) began in 1983 and became fully recognized by The Holy See in 1996. Like other Vatican media, CTV is concerned with broadcasting activities and messages of the pope and related Catholic Church concerns. It conducts around 130 live broadcasts per annum, produces documentaries, creates a weekly magazine program called Octava Dies that is distributed internationally, and serves as an archival facility for all of its footage. On Sundays the station uses Intelsat to broadcast the pope's Angelus to the United States.

Fides and the Missionary News Agency are the city-state's two news agencies. Along with other media, The Holy See extensively utilizes the Internet to transmit official current and historical information it sees as important for general dissemination. As of 2000, it had 93 Internet service providers located in both the Holy See and in Italy. The homepage of its official English Web site is

Depending on perspective, censorship can be seen to be either an insignificant or a major issue with the Holy See. Appropriate officials must approve all material, media organizations cannot function without permission of governing authorities, and dissenting opinions are tolerated only on certain issues and only within certain parameters. For all practical purposes, the state is the press and the press is the state. However, there is an explicitly communicated sense of expected allegiances and adherences deemed necessary to work under the auspices of the Holy See due to its inextricable bind with religion and in all fairness, it would be difficult not to be aware of this before joining. The state's very existence is based upon what are considered transcendent and eternal principles rather than on solely temporal reasons for governance, but one must question how to deal with such issues when they seem to be exclusionary rather than inclusive. Ethically, this puzzle—along with its concerns—quickly spills into the realm of media and the right to communicate.


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Sumner, Jeff, ed. Gale Directory of Publications and Broadcast Media, Vol. 5 136th ed. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group, 2002.

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World Desk Reference. Available from .

Clint B. Thomas Baldwin

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