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The politics of Vatican City take place in a framework of a theocratic absolute elective monarchy, in which the Pope, religiously speaking, the leader of the Catholic Church and Bishop of Rome, exercises ex officio supreme legislative, executive, and judicial power over the Vatican City  (an entity distinct from the Holy See), a rare case of non-hereditary monarchy.
The pope is elected in the Conclave, composed of all the cardinal electors which are bishops and archbishops appointed by the pope (now limited to all the cardinals below the age of 80), after the death or resignation of the previous Pope. The Conclave is held in the Sistine Chapel, where all the electors are locked in (Latin: cum clave) until the election for which a two-thirds majority is required. The faithful can follow the results of the polls (usually two in the morning and two in the evening, until election) by a chimney-top, visible from St. Peter's Square: in a stove attached to the chimney are burnt the voting papers, and additives make the resulting smoke black (fumata nera) in case of no election, white (fumata bianca) when the new pope is finally elected. The Dean of the Sacred College (Cardinale Decano) will then ask the freshly elected pope to choose his pastoral name, and as soon as the pope is dressed with the white cassock, the Senior Cardinal-Deacon (Cardinale Protodiacono) appears on the major balcony of St. Peter's façade to introduce the new pope  with the famous Latin sentence Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum: habemus papam (I announce to you a great joy: We have a Pope). The term "Holy See" refers to the composite of the authority, jurisdiction, and sovereignty vested in the Pope and his advisers to direct the worldwide Catholic Church. It is therefore quite distinct from the Vatican City state, which was created in 1929, through the Lateran treaties between the Holy See and Italy. As the "central government" of the Catholic Church, the Holy See has a legal personality that allows it to enter into treaties as the juridical equal of a state and to send and receive diplomatic representatives. It has formal diplomatic relations with 179 nations.  The State of Vatican City, for its part, is recognized under international law as a sovereign territory. Unlike the Holy See, it does not receive or send diplomatic representatives, and the Holy See acts on its behalf in international affairs.
As with almost all monarchies, the executive, legislative and judicial power of government reside in the crown, in this case in the office of the Bishop of Rome (the pope). However, as with many monarchies, the pope exercises this power through other organs which act on his behalf and in his name.
The pope commonly delegates the internal administration of Vatican City to various bodies and officials. However, according to the Fundamental Law of Vatican City State, "The Supreme Pontiff, sovereign of Vatican City State, has the fullness of legislative, executive, and judicial powers"  for Vatican City.
The pope delegates legislative authority for the state to the unicameral Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State. This commission was established in 1939 by Pope Pius XII. It consists of seven Cardinals appointed by the pope for five-year terms. Laws passed by the Commission must be approved by the pope through the Secretariat of State prior to being published and taking effect.
The President of the Pontifical Commission is also the President of the Governorate of Vatican City, to whom the pope delegates executive authority for the state. The president is assisted by a Secretary General and a Vice Secretary General. Each of these officers is appointed by the pope for a five-year term. Actions of the President must be approved by the Commission. Various departments and offices report to the Governorate, handling such issues as communications, internal security, fire protection, and the Vatican Museums. The Corpo della Gendarmeria is the state's security and police force, not the Pontifical Swiss Guard, which is an organ of the Holy See, not of Vatican City.
|Sovereign||Pope Francis||13 March 2013|
|President of the Governorate||Fernando Vérgez Alzaga||1 October 2021|
The Pope is ex officio sovereign and head of state of the Vatican City State since the eighth century. He delegates executive authority to the President of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State, who is ex officio President of the Governorate and head of government of Vatican. The president is appointed by the Pope for a five-year term, but may be removed at any time by the pope. The president reports all important matters to the Secretariat of State, the Pope's chief everyday advisory body, which is consulted on all matters, even if they belong to the specific competence of the Commission for Vatican City State or, for instance, that of the Congregation for Catholic Education. The Secretariat of State is not thereby considered to hold responsibility for such matters, and the Cardinal Secretary of State is not seen as heading the Vatican City State or the various departments of the Roman Curia, other than the Secretariat of State itself.
Vatican City is a member of CEPT, Eutelsat, International Grains Council, Intelsat, ITU and UPU.
Vatican City does not have direct diplomatic relations with other states. Its foreign relations are managed by the Holy See. See Holy See – Relationship with the Vatican City and other territories.
A unicameral Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State, appointed by the Pope, operates as legislative branch, proposing law and policy to the Pope.  Prior to taking effect, laws and policies passed by the commission must be approved by the Supreme Pontiff, through the Secretariat of State,  and be published in the Italian-language supplement of the Acta Apostolicae Sedis that deals with Vatican City State matters.
The "Councillors of the State" give their consultation in the drafting of legislation.  They may be consulted either alone or collegially. 
Vatican City has a legal system distinct from that of Italy. The pope's judicial authority is exercised through the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, as he by law serves also as the President of the Cassation Court of Vatican City (i.e. the highest court of appeal). 
The population of the state is a few hundred. Each day outsiders come there to work. 18 million people visit there each year.
In one year its courts tried 640 civil cases and 226 penal cases. 
The penal cases are usually for minor crimes such as pickpocketing.  If such crimes are committed in Saint Peter's Square, the perpetrators may be arrested and tried by the Italian authorities, since that area is normally patrolled by Italian police. 
Under the terms of article 22 of the Lateran Treaty,  Italy will, at the request of the Holy See, punish individuals for crimes committed within Vatican City and will itself proceed against the person who committed the offence, if that person takes refuge in Italian territory. Persons accused of crimes recognized as such both in Italy and in Vatican City that are committed in Italian territory will be handed over to the Italian authorities if they take refuge in Vatican City or in buildings that under the treaty enjoy immunity.  
Vatican City has no prison system, apart from a few detention cells for pre-trial detention.   People convicted of committing crimes in the Vatican serve terms in Italian prisons (Polizia Penitenziaria), with costs covered by the Vatican. 
On 16 March 2020, it was announced that Pope Francis signed a new motu proprio into law on March 13, 2020 which reforms the Vatican's judicial system.   The motu proprio, titled Law CCCLI, updates the laws governing the Vatican's judiciary system and also replaced the previous judicial system which was founded in 1987.   The new law provides for greater independence of judicial bodies and magistrates dependent on the Pope.  It also specifies the requirements for the appointment of judges and it simplifies the judicial system while increasing the staff of the court.  Furthermore, it provides a head for the Office of the Promoter of Justice (prosecutor’s office), and sets out a standardized procedure for possible disciplinary action against certified advocates. 
In 2013 Pope Francis criticized the Vatican for having a "gay lobby" in remarks during a meeting held in private with some of the Catholic religious from Latin America, and he was said to have promised to see what could be done to address the issue.  In July 2013, he responded directly to journalists' questions. He notably drew a distinction between the problem of lobbying and the sexual orientation of people: "If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?" "The problem", he said, "is not having this orientation. We must be brothers. The problem is lobbying by this orientation, or lobbies of greedy people, political lobbies, Masonic lobbies, so many lobbies. This is the worse problem."  
The Holy See, also called the See of Rome, Petrine See or Apostolic See, is the jurisdiction of the Pope in his role as the bishop of Rome. It includes the apostolic episcopal see of the Diocese of Rome, which has universal ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the Catholic Church and the sovereign city-state known as the Vatican City.
The Roman Curia comprises the administrative institutions of the Holy See and the central body through which the affairs of the Catholic Church are conducted. The Roman Curia is the institution which the Roman Pontiff ordinarily makes use of in the exercise of his supreme pastoral office and universal mission in the world. It is at the service of the Pope, successor of Peter, and of the Bishops, successors of the Apostles, according to the modalities that are proper to the nature of each one, fulfilling their function with an evangelical spirit, working for the good and at the service of communion, unity and edification of the Universal Church and attending to the demands of the world in which the Church is called to fulfill her mission.
The Vatican City, officially the Vatican City State, is an independent city-state and enclave surrounded by Rome, Italy. The Vatican City State, also known simply as the Vatican, became independent from Italy with the Lateran Treaty (1929), and it is a distinct territory under "full ownership, exclusive dominion, and sovereign authority and jurisdiction" of the Holy See, itself a sovereign entity of international law, which maintains the city state's temporal, diplomatic, and spiritual independence. With an area of 49 hectares and a population of about 453, it is the smallest state in the world by both area and population. As governed by the Holy See, the Vatican City State is an ecclesiastical or sacerdotal-monarchical state ruled by the pope who is the bishop of Rome and head of the Catholic Church. The highest state functionaries are all Catholic clergy of various national origins. After the Avignon Papacy (1309–1377) the popes have mainly resided at the Apostolic Palace within what is now Vatican City, although at times residing instead in the Quirinal Palace in Rome or elsewhere.
Giovanni Lajolo is a Cardinal and former President of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State and President of the Governatorate of Vatican City State.
Crescenzio Sepe is an Italian prelate of the Catholic Church who served as Archbishop of Naples from 2006 to 2020. He served in the Roman Curia as Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples from 2001 to 2006. He was made a cardinal in 2001. Before that he spent 25 years in increasingly important positions in the Roman Curia.
Ivan Cornelius Dias was an Indian cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He was Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples from 2006 to 2011, Archbishop of Bombay from 1996 to 2006, and before that a papal ambassador in the Balkans, East Asia, and West Africa. He was elevated to the rank of cardinal in 2001.
Jean-Louis Pierre Tauran was a French cardinal of the Catholic Church. When he died, he had been the president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue since 2007 and Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church since the end of 2014. He was made a cardinal in 2003 and was the Cardinal Protodeacon from 2011 to 2014. His earlier career included almost thirty years in the diplomatic service of the Holy See and several years as the Vatican's chief archivist and librarian.
The Pontifical Commission for the Vatican City State is the legislative body of Vatican City. It consists of a president, who also holds the title of President of the Governorate of the Vatican City State, and six other cardinals appointed by the pope for five-year terms.
Leonardo Sandri is an Argentine Cardinal of the Catholic Church. He has been the Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches since June 2007 and a cardinal since November of that year. He served in the diplomatic service of the Holy See from 1974 to 1991, in several overseas assignments including as permanent observer of the Holy See before the Organization of American States from 1989 to 1991, and in Rome as Substitute for General Affairs in the Secretariat of State from 1999 to 2007. On 24 January 2020, Pope Francis approved his election as Vice Dean of the College of Cardinals.
Francesco Coccopalmerio is an Italian cardinal. He was president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts from his appointment by Pope Benedict XVI on 15 February 2007 until his resignation was accepted by Pope Francis on 7 April 2018. He spent his early years in the Archdiocese of Milan and became an auxiliary bishop in 1993. He moved to the Roman Curia in 2000.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and introduction to Vatican City:
Pietro ParolinOMRI is an Italian prelate of the Catholic Church. A cardinal since February 2014, he has served as the Vatican's Secretary of State since October 2013 and a member of the Council of Cardinal Advisers since July 2014. Before that, he worked in the diplomatic service of the Holy See for thirty years, where his assignments included terms in Nigeria, Mexico and Venezuela, as well as more than six years as Undersecretary of State for Relations with States.
Giuseppe Bertello is an Italian prelate of the Catholic Church, a cardinal since 2012, who was President of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State and President of the Governorate of Vatican City State from October 2011 to October 2021. He worked in the diplomatic service of the Holy See from 1971 to 2011; became an archbishop in 1987; held appointments as Nuncio to several countries, including Rwanda, Mexico, and Italy; and was the Holy See's representative to a number of international organizations.
This is an index of Vatican City–related topics.
Peter Bryan Wells is an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church who has spent most of his career in the diplomatic service of the Holy See. He has worked in Rome in the administration of the Secretariat of State and in foreign postings. He has been an archbishop and a nuncio since 2016.
The Curial response to Catholic sexual abuse cases was a significant part of the Church's response to Catholic sexual abuse cases. Its policies have shifted from favoring secrecy in the 20th century to active reform and apologies in the 21st century. Under the current leadership of Pope Francis, the issue has been addressed through direct instructions to report cases of sexual abuse and revoking the former policies of secrecy.
The Fundamental Law of Vatican City State, promulgated by Pope John Paul II on 26 November 2000, is the main governing document of the Vatican's civil entities. It obtained the force of law of 22 February 2001, Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, Apostle, and replaced in its entirety law N. I. All the norms in force in Vatican City State which were not in agreement with the new Law were abrogated and the original of the Fundamental Law, bearing the Seal of Vatican City State, was deposited in the Archive of the Laws of Vatican City State and the corresponding text was published in the Supplement to the Acta Apostolicae Sedis. The law consists of 20 Articles.
The law of Vatican City State consists of many forms, the most important of which is the canon law of the Catholic Church. The organs of state are governed by the Fundamental Law of Vatican City State. The Code of Penal Procedure governs tribunals and the Lateran Treaty governs relations with the Italian Republic.
Santos Abril y Castelló is a Spanish prelate of the Catholic Church. After a career in the diplomatic corps of the Holy See, he held a number of positions in the Roman Curia and from 2011 to 2016 was Archpriest of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore.
Karl-Josef Rauber is a cardinal of the Catholic Church, who served as a papal nuncio from 1982 until his retirement in 2009.