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

Kosovo and The Vatican’s Challenges in the Balkans

Kosovo is one of the most important and sensitive countries for the Catholic Church in Europe. Since it remains unrecognized by many important world countries, the Holy See has chosen to preserve good relations with Serbia by not recognizing it- while at the same time moving vigorously to increase Catholic conversions and promote pro-Catholic leaders in a Muslim-majority country that has, since 2012, seen hundreds of locals volunteer for Middle Eastern jihads, a consequence of long-term poverty, low education and ideological and financial activity from foreign Islamists.The Vatican challenges in the Balkans Bolstering the Catholic Church in 2015 and beyond


Since the NATO bombing of 1999, the Holy See and its allies have moved to make inroads in this predominantly Muslim country of two million. The Vatican had supported Ibrahim Rugova and his LDK party in their attempt to find a peaceful solution to the conflict. Rugova would become one of the major pro-Catholic politicians in the early period of Kosovo’s post-Serbian existence.

The erection of a cathedral (named after Mother Teresa, the ethnic-Albanian nun with Kosovo roots) in Pristina deeply angered Muslims, as have other Church activities, even in the partially Catholic-populated the west of the country. The perception that the Church has given special privileges, favors and even wealth to pliant politicians and people who convert has sparked a heretofore unseen religious rift, with Islamic leaders and young Islamists continuing to criticize the Catholic Church in Kosovo.

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The Vatican’s efforts to convert Muslim Kosovars has been noticeable since at least 2008, when post-independent media PR campaigns began to highlight the phenomenon. The Holy See’s approach to Albanians here is part of a larger, cross-border initiative to consolidate Catholicism in northern Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro. As such, we expect a concerted and continuous increase in Vatican diplomatic, ecclesiastical and social outreach in Kosovo.

This is being enhanced by widespread charity activity and even the opening of Catholic schools, where a ‘new elite’ is being educated, in an attempt to influence the future orientation of the country. While it is too early to know whether the Holy See will prevail, it is all but certain that the increasing Catholic challenge will exacerbate lingering resentment among young Muslims, who have their own foreign backers and are similarly well-organized.

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