Languages
Page last updated at 02:49 GMT, Friday, 2 January 2009

Vatican divorces from Italian law

By David Willey
BBC News, Rome

A sunset is seen behind St Peter's basilica at the Vatican, 24 December 2008
The Vatican says there are too many laws in Italian civil and criminal codes

The Vatican City State, the world's smallest sovereign state, has decided to divorce itself from Italian law.

Vatican legal experts say there are too many laws in Italian civil and criminal codes, and that they frequently conflict with Church principles.

With effect from New Year's Day, the Pope has decided that the Vatican will no longer automatically adopt laws passed by the Italian parliament.

All Italian laws will be examined one by one before they are adopted.

Under the Lateran treaties signed exactly 80 years ago between Italy and the Pope, and the Italian Parliamentary system, Italian laws were applied automatically.

Government confession

A senior Vatican Canon lawyer, Monsignor Jose Maria Serrano Ruiz, has gone on record as saying that Italian laws are too many, too unstable and too often conflict with the moral teachings of the Catholic Church.

The reaction from the Italian government has been that from a technical point of view, the Vatican may well be right.

Pope Benedict XVI (file image)
All Italian laws will now be examined one by one before they are adopted

An Italian government minister admitted Italian laws are often badly written and are sometimes difficult to understand.

An Italian parliamentary commission is at present working out how to delete tens of thousands of obsolete laws from Italy's civil code.

The Vatican has also decided to scrutinise international treaties before deciding whether or not to adhere to them.

It has recently refused to approve a United Nations declaration decriminalising homosexuality.

The wording went too far, Vatican officials said, in placing different sexual orientations on the same level.

Some legal observers believe that the Vatican is simply trying to assert its legal independence in cases involving for example, civil unions, divorce, living wills, or euthanasia.

If Italy were to legalise same sex marriages or euthanasia, for example, the Vatican would now be able to refuse to recognise that.

Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Pope laments global instability
25 Dec 08 |  Europe
Pope 'to visit Holy Land in May'
23 Dec 08 |  Middle East
Pope attacks blurring of gender
23 Dec 08 |  Europe
Pope urges fight against racism
17 Aug 08 |  Europe
Pope urges unity against terror
18 Jul 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Profile: Pope Benedict XVI
16 Apr 08 |  Europe

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2013 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific