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 CNS Story:

VATICAN-CITIZENS Mar-3-2011 (420 words) xxxi

Millions come to the Vatican, but only a few spend the night

A girl watches Pope Benedict lead the Angelus prayer in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Feb. 20. (CNS/Paul Haring)

By Sarah Delaney
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Millions of citizens of countries from all over the world enter Vatican territory every year to visit the Vatican Museums and St. Peter's Basilica or catch a glimpse of the pope on a Sunday in St. Peter's Square.

But only a select 572 souls can claim citizenship of the Vatican itself, statistics released March 1 showed.

Those are the ones carrying what is probably the most exclusive ID card in the world, issued by the Stato della Citta del Vaticano, or Vatican City State. And of that rarefied group, only 32 are women.

The agency that regulates life within the smallest country on the planet issued the statistics listing who actually lives within the Vatican walls. The facts and figures accompanied copies of Pope Benedict XVI's new regulations for citizenship, residency and access to areas not open to the general public.

Bishop Giorgio Corbellini, deputy secretary general of the Vatican City governor's office, explained in a statement that the papal laws updated the old rules written in 1929 under the treaty with Italy known as the Lateran Pacts. Under the old regulations, residents were obliged to accept citizenship; now some people, such as spouses of employees, can opt out of Vatican citizenship.

Who are the citizens of the Vatican? The pope, naturally, and 73 cardinals who live within the walls or in Rome; 306 members of the papal diplomatic corps; 49 priests and religious brothers; one nun; 86 Swiss Guards; and 25 laymen and 31 laywomen, most of whom are Vatican employees, along with their spouses and children, the list showed.

Of those with Vatican passports, only 223 call the Vatican home, while 349 live in Rome or elsewhere. Most will lose their privileged status when they leave their Vatican post or residence.

Another 221 people live on Vatican territory as residents but are not citizens. They are mostly clergy, male and female religious and lay workers, according to the statistics.

The small numbers contrast with the massive traffic of people who pass through the Vatican, mostly for tourism or to participate in religious functions. The Vatican press office said that in 2010, some 18 million people visited St. Peter's Basilica, 4.6 million toured the Vatican Museums and 2.2 million attended papal liturgies, audiences or the Sunday recitation of the Angelus.

The Vatican is a sovereign state but shares many things with surrounding Rome, including its traffic: The governor's office said 2.2 million cars passed through the walls in 2010 alone.


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