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Lateran Treaty

            Under this treaty the papacy recognized Rome as the capital of Italy and Italy recognized church sovereignty over the Vatican City and independence for the Pope.

            The Lateran Treaty, also known as the Lateran Pact of 1929, was effective June 7, 1929 to June 3, 1985. Benito Mussolini signed for Italy and cardinal secretary of state Pietro Gasparri signed for the Catholic Church. It was incorporated into the Italian constitution of 1947. At the time the pope was Pius XI. Pius XII, a future pope, as Cardinal Pacelli, was an important negotiator for the Holy See.

            In 1871 the Unity of Italy had been perfected. But this unity had restricted the pope to a few buildings. It awarded to Pius IX and his successors annual payment for the lost papal states. The official Catholic Church never recognized this arrangement and did not accept the payments. The popes before the Lateran Treaty felt like prisoners. These problems involved were called the “Roman Question.” The treaty solved these problems by declaring that Roman Catholicism would be the only state religion in Italy, and that Italy would recognize the new state called Vatican City as completely independent. Italy’s government guaranteed Vatican public services. Certain buildings not inside Vatican City limits were deemed to be part of the Holy See. Italy was to punish criminals from the Vatican City area when requested to do so, and the church was to extradite to Italy those accused of acts which were crimes of both Italy and the Vatican. Catholicism was declared as the religion of Italy, and this stood until 1985.

            Parts of the Treaty remain in effect today. An Italian comedienne in 2008 made a joke about the pope’s anti-gay stance. She found that she was in violation of Article 8 of the Conciliation Treaty, an offence which can bring up to five years in prison. Eventually she was exonerated when an Italian Minister of Justice dropped the case, but there still was the threat of punishment after all these years.