The Holy See

Capital Vatican City

Time Zone CET (GMT+1)

Country Code 39

ccTLD .va

Currency Euro

Land Area 0.44 sq km

Population 836

Language Latin, Italian

Major Religion Roman Catholicism

Key Data

Notable Public Figures

Francis I - Jorge Mario Bergoglio,

Pietro Parolin,
Cardinal Secretary of State

Giovanni Angelo Becciu,
Substitute for General Affairs

Paul Richard Gallagher,
Secretary for the Relations with States

Antoine Camiller,
Undersecretary for the Relations with States

Luciano Suriani,
Delegate for Pontificial Representations

Peter Brian Wells,
Assessor for General Affairs

José Avelino Bettencourt,
Head of Protocol

Domenico Giani,
Chief of Vatican Gendarmerie

Diplomacy and The Vatican’s Challenges in the Balkans

Papal diplomacy is a centuries-old art that has manifested in different ways over time, ranging from negotiation and shows of ‘soft power’ to intercession in politics and wars. All of these have been observed in the Balkans in the past, though today the Vatican’s presence is characterized by shrewd and rarely-visible diplomacy.The Vatican challenges in the Balkans Bolstering the Catholic Church in 2015 and beyond Key data about present and past Balkan nuncios comprises a special appendix to the book.


The Holy See is represented on the ground by a small group of hand-picked diplomats. Statistically, these men are 62 years of age at time of first Balkan appointment, and most have prior experience in developing countries in Africa and Latin America.

The Vatican’s official diplomatic representatives (nuncios) are tasked with covering all territory of interest, with the assistance of relatively small staffs. Their work is greatly assisted, however, through interface with local Catholic leaders, charities and other sympathetic groups and individuals.

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An important restructuring decision in recent years now means that two Balkan countries are assigned to a single nuncio and his team, with the exception of larger countries like Orthodox Serbia and staunchly Catholic Croatia, both of which currently have their own specific nuncios.

Balkan nuncios have the task of balancing official Vatican policy with the ever-changing political realities on the ground, and with the needs of their local ecclesiastical administrations and the flock. In 2015 and beyond, we estimate an increase in the input and influence of nuncios. Their advice was, in the past neglected by some Holy See higher-ups in different administrations.

The projected gains of the nuncios is due to the November 2014 appointment of Jesuit-educated Archbishop Paul Gallagher as the Holy See’s new Secretary for Relations with States. Essentially the Vatican’s ‘foreign minister’, Gallagher is considered a ‘friend of the nuncios’ and is said to have acuity of vision and an openness to input from field diplomats. He will be overseen by Pope Francis and his Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who is himself an accomplished diplomat.

Therefore, considering this current assessment, analysts focusing on Vatican policy will do well to more keenly observe the activities and insights of papal nuncios in the Balkan countries, as they will increasingly help shape this policy at a time when the Holy See has to focus its attention at the top on other areas of the world.

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