VATICAN CITY – While it may be “a nearly invisible dot on the world map,” the Vatican plays an enormous role in fostering world peace, solidarity and hope, Pope Benedict XVI said.
The Vatican, which is the home of the tomb of St. Peter and the residence of the pope, “unceasingly announces a message of true social progress, hope, reconciliation and peace,” he said during a Feb. 14 audience with participants in a congress marking the 80th anniversary of the founding of Vatican City State.
This “minute and unarmed state,” which lacks any real army, seems “apparently irrelevant within the big, international geopolitical strategies,” he said.
But precisely because the Holy See is truly free and independent from the world’s geopolitical powers it can continually promote solidarity and the common good, he said.
Perhaps it is for that reason that “everyone from every part of the world pays attention to this tiny strip of land,” he added.
Vatican City State was established Feb. 11, 1929, when Vatican officials and Italy’s Prime Minister Benito Mussolini signed the Lateran Pacts in which the Vatican and the Italian state recognized each other as sovereign nations.
The Vatican organized a Feb. 12-14 congress titled “A Small Territory for a Big Mission,” to mark the city-state’s 80th anniversary.
The pope told congress participants the Vatican wanted to establish sovereignty so that it could carry out its spiritual mission in the world unimpeded by “the often turbulent events in the sea of history.”
The pope thanked all Vatican employees for working at the service of the church with professional skill and honesty.
He prayed Vatican City always would be “a true ‘city upon a hill,’ radiant for its beliefs and the generous dedication of all those who work in the service of the ecclesial mission of the successor of Peter.”