Is the pope head of the world's most powerful government? | The Economist

This is the world's smallest country.

The Vatican City State is less than half a square kilometer

in size and home to around 800 people,

one of whom is the Pope.

The Pontiff is not only the head of state,

but is also head of the government of the Catholic Church,

known as the Holy See.

This institution has existed for the best part

of two millennia, and represents over one billion

baptized Catholics worldwide.

An old and secretive entity, the Holy See acts as

a surprisingly powerful player in global diplomacy.

This man shapes its foreign policy,

Archbishop Paul Gallagher.

Here are his key strategies

on running the world's oldest diplomatic service.

The Holy See is determined

and remains committed to making a contribution

to how things unfold in the world and how relations unfold

between states and people.

The Holy See's ambassadors, known as nuncios,

represent the Pope in 183 countries,

and have a permanent presence at the United Nations.

Here, the Pope and his diplomats lobby other states

to advance the Church's worldview.

It argues against abortion and contraception,

but also promises peace.

Nations and rulers interacted with the Popes

over the centuries, and that has continued

to evolve and to change up to our modern times.

In Africa, papal envoys have mediated

peace talks to end wars in Sudan, Ivory Coast, and Burundi.

But it can also be dangerous work.

In 2003, the nuncio to Burundi was assassinated

by rogue rebel gunman, for his part in negotiating

a peace deal, ending the country's decade-long civil war.

Pope Francis comes with his own

particular experience of being a Latin American,

being Argentinian, a pastor

of a very big and important diocese.

Pope Francis is the first non-European

pontiff in modern times.

He was at the center of one of the biggest diplomatic

coups of this century, acting as an intermediary

in talks between Cuba and America.

These talks ended more than half a century

of frozen relations between the two countries.

There has always been a tendency

in the Church, to be focused on particular areas,

Eurocentrocism, North American-centrocism.

I think what the Pope is trying to say is that,

"Let's have a global vision for a globalized world".

Today, more than 60 million people

are displaced worldwide.

Pope Francis has said that this is one of the biggest

global challenges of the 21st century.

He believes it's a global problem,

so it's something that we've all got to shoulder.

In 2013, Pope Francis called

the mass drowning of migrants off the coast

of the Italian island of Lampedusa shameful.

15 days later, Italy launched Operation Mare Nostrum,

a naval mission to rescue migrants at sea.

If we reject the refugee,

we in some ways induce in ourselves a certain indifference

to the humanity of suffering around us.

But the Catholic Church has been condemned

for turning a blind eye to decades of human suffering

within its own institutions,

a series of sexual abuse scandals around the world.

Pope Francis has pledged to address these crimes,

which have damaged the Church's reputation.

While there are calls to modernize the Catholic Church

and the way it's run, behind the scenes,

the Vatican remains a powerful force in global affairs.