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The Vatican (or Holy See)

Many Catholics don't know much about the Vatican or how the Church is governed. Nor have basic materials on the governance of the Church found their way into our own archives over the years. Perhaps we take too much for granted.

We have placed a brief description of the structure of Church government in our library to serve as a primer. This identifies the different departments and offices which serve the Pope in fostering and regulating all the various aspects of ecclesiastical life.

In addition to being the center of the Catholic Church's government, however, the Vatican is also the spiritual center of Catholicism. This "spiritual home" is especially embodied in St. Peter's Basilica, the chief Church of all Christendom. The Vatican's museums also house an astonishing collection of artifacts of the greatest spiritual significance.

To delve more deeply into both the "mindset" of the Vatican and its inner workings requires the help of an experienced insider. We offer a review of a recent book on the subject which, while not without flaws, provides considerable insight into how Catholic business is done.

If you only have time to look at three things, LOOK AT THESE.

  1. The Structure of the Church's Government
  2. A Website Devoted to St. Peter's Basilica
  3. A Review of John Allen's All the Pope's Men

And if you've got more time...

While one must always be wary of misunderstanding and even bias when non-Catholic websites describe Catholic governance, searches on the web may be profitably used to locate more information about any particular office or body associated with the Holy See.

For more on the artifacts preserved in the Vatican, it is sufficient to visit the official web site of the Vatican Museums. For Pope Benedict XVI's recent comments on their importance, see Vatican Museums, Where Faith and Art Intertwine.

Finally, it goes without saying that the universal mission of the Church which emanates from the Vatican includes all the manifestations of the Pope's sacramental and teaching powers, including all the disciplines and doctrines promulgated by the Church's magisterium, or teaching authority.

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