…..of Benedict XVI’s abdication of the Throne of Peter. February 11 is a holiday within Vatican City, which commemorates the signing of the Lateran Treaty on February 11, 1929. Here is a good eyewitness account of February 11, 2013 from a Scottish Archbishop. Please take a moment to pray for the health of our Pope Emeritus.
The Lateran Treaty is significant because it granted to the Church recognition of the Vatican as a sovereign city-state. The recognition was granted by the then-fascist Italian government and arguably provided some protection when the Nazis stood at the “border” between Italy and the Vatican toward the end of the World War II. Generally, the Treaty gained for the Church much-needed autonomy.
The Lateran Treaty continues to be a significant thing in modern times, because the Church has become somewhat temporally diminished since it was executed, as we are being pushed further to the margins of the world’s affairs. With the clamorous rhetoric found in certain corners of the international community, one wonders if such a treaty could be achieved with the current powers.
As with any aspect of the Rule of Law, a treaty is not self-enforcing. Governments and people must respect and abide by treaties. Normally nations possess armed forces and other coercive arguments for upholding treaties. As a temporal power, the Vatican City-State lacks such things. As a temporal power, the Vatican City-State is rather at the mercy of the rest of the world.
Our parish’s Catholic “men’s group” is reading Benson’s Lord of the World, because, in case you missed it, the Pope recently recommended the book. He said, “I advise you to read it. Reading it, you’ll understand well what I mean by ideological colonization.” I’ve read it once before, and started it again last night. Since the book was written before the Lateran Treaty, the idea of a Vatican City-State is not well developed, but Rome as the Catholic center of the world is an important element in the events leading to the End of the World.
It’s interesting that for his book, Benson grouped believers into three basic camps: the seculars (or “humanitarians”), the Easterns (primarily, Islam), and the Catholics. That is, essentially, the world in which we live today. Protestantism is not as dead as in the Lord of the World, but it’s headed in the general direction. It will not survive to the end of the world.
Regardless of whether events unfold the way they are described in the Lord of the World, I think there are enough “signs and symptoms” of the world being brought further into conflict with the Church that we as Catholics should be praying earnestly for the fundamentals like religious liberty, the rule of law, and so on. And for courageous bishops and priests. There aren’t many of those, or faithful Catholics for that matter, in the end of Benson’s world.