Rome having been reduced to the size of a bowl of ashes by the Gothic invaders in 410 CE, church rule was re-established in the 8th century as the Stato della Chiesa or Papal States, and stayed that way for almost a thousand years, a world religious empire (the Holy See) but also a European secular empire (the Republic of St Peter), sharing headquarters in Rome, the latter with franchise outlets throughout Lazio, Umbria, Marche and part of Emilia-Romagna, as well as in Avignon in France.
About a half of that world empire had already been lost by the time that Italy came into existence in the 19th century - a consequence of Protestantism seceding from the union - so that what remains today is just 110 acres of land with a population of 842, established as a kind of Roman Ghetto by the Lateran Treaty of 1929. Beyond those narrow confines the Republic of St Peter has lost virtually all its secular authority, but within those narrow confines the Holy See rules on, with an estimated 1.2 billion people in the world counting themselves as its adherents.
The smallest state in the world is also the most economically prosperous, having run the most ambitious Ponzi scheme in history for 2015 years, and little sign yet that the rewards promised to investors are going to be fulfilled. Government is by oligarchy – all members of the oligarchy are required to live as eunuchs, though formal castration is no longer practiced - with the oligarchs themselves choosing their leader, who serves until death, though some leaders, known as Popes or Pontiffs, have been deposed, exiled, murdered or assassinated. Above the Pope stands a figurehead of the despotically monarchic type, known by the title God, who officially presides at meetings, but is generally silent, and has no formal vote. There is no Parliament, nor any need for one, as the leader has absolute power and all necessary legislation was agreed by Synod in the 4th century CE.
The Human Rights record of the oligarchs is by some distance the worst in human history, the Holy See being responsible for establishing the policies through which were driven, and encouraging those who then carried out, the genocides of Mayan, Aztec, Inca, Arawak and other populations in South America, as well as the subordination of all other peoples in the region to what is called "the Will of God", though no formal Will has yet been found, and claims that he is dead are strenuously denied; and this despite the fact that, if we are simply carrying out the Will of God, then this is probate, and you don't do probate until the will-maker is dead.
Similar genocides in Africa and Asia, including the policy decisions behind the slave trade, as well as repeated acts of ethnic cleansing of the Jews of Europe, are also included in its catalogue of crimes, though support among the governments of the world suggest its leaders are unlikely to be called to the International Court of Justice very soon. Torture of "disbelievers" (the term used for those who refuse to invest in the Ponzi scheme) and "recanters" (those who initially did buy into the Ponzi scheme, but then refused to purchase an extended warranty) has been commonplace, and the stakes are often raised extremely high in the burning desire of the oligarchs to enlighten the masses through tongues of flame. Citizens of the Holy See, including ex-patriates, are easily recognized, as most like to wear the traditional amulet, a necklace from which hangs, in the shape of the letter T, the tortured corpse of a murdered Jew, though strangely he doesn’t look terribly Jewish.
The smallest nation in the world also has one of the greatest collections of art, scultpture and jewellery in the world, all located in one of the supreme architectural achievements, St Peter's Basilica, whose Sistine Chapel contains works by Perugino, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Botticelli, and of course the Last Judgment by Michelangelo on the ceiling.
For those who are interested, yes, the Pope tweets (one assumes in his case that it is a Holy Dove); and yes, you can follow him on Facebook too (and this time, look at his profile picture, he clearly can't tell a white pigeon from a holy dove either).
Marks For: 3
(at the Vatican City they do not use Marks, they use Stigmata. Marks tend to be superficial scratches and bruises, whereas the Vatican likes to go for the full Crucifixion, or at the very least a good burning on the rain-forest timber; the advantage of the latter, of course, is that it doesn't leave marks, so there is no forensic evidence)
Marks Against: X (which was ten to the original Romans, but interestingly enough now symbolises "an unknown number", and was also the shape of the cross in Roman times)
Why an X here? Because statistical records were not maintained during the period of the Crusades, the conquest of the Americas, nor slave-trafficking out of Africa, and therefore no number can be provided here, other than to state without fear of contradiction, even excluding the annual anti-Jewish pogroms and ultimate Holocaust, that between 50 and 100 million is a not-unreasonable estimate, though it is obviously a quite unreasonable fact of history. For President Obama's February 2015 comparison of radical Islam today with radical Christianity then, click here.
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