Holy See

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The Holy See (Latin: Sancta Sedes) is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and speaks for the whole Catholic Church. It is also recognized by other subjects of international law as a sovereign entity, headed by the Pope, with which diplomatic relations can be maintained.[1]

Although it is often referred to by the term "the Vatican", the Holy See is not the same entity as the Vatican City State, which came into existence only in 1929, while the Holy See, the episcopal see of Rome, dates back to early Christian times. Ambassadors are officially accredited not to the Vatican City State but to "the Holy See", and papal representatives to states and international organizations are recognized as representing the Holy See, not the Vatican City State.

While all episcopal sees are "holy", the expression "the Holy See" (without further specification) is normally used in international relations, as a metonym, (as well as in the canon law of the Catholic Church)[2] to refer to the See of Rome viewed as the central government of the Catholic Church. The Holy See as legal person bears many similarities with the crown in the secular Christian monarchies.[citation needed]



The Pope governs the Catholic Church through the Roman Curia. The Roman Curia consists of a complex of offices that administer church affairs at the highest level, including the Secretariat of State, nine Congregations, three Tribunals, eleven Pontifical Councils, and seven Pontifical Commissions. The Secretariat of State, under the Cardinal Secretary of State, directs and coordinates the Curia. The incumbent, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, is the See's equivalent of a prime minister. Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary of the Section for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State, acts as the Holy See's minister of foreign affairs. Bertone and Mamberti were named in their respective roles by Pope Benedict XVI in September 2006.

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