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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,
Pope

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

Serbia and The Vatican’s Challenges in the Balkans

Serbia has long had a difficult relationship with the Holy See, and the Catholic Church in general. However, in recent years this relationship has shown some signs of improvement.The Vatican challenges in the Balkans Bolstering the Catholic Church in 2015 and beyond The Vatican’s decision to not recognize Kosovo’s independence in 2008 gratified Serbia. However, popular anger at the Church’s decision to sanctify WWII-era Croatian Cardinal Stepinac has manifested among ordinary citizens- one of several reasons stated for why a papal visit to Belgrade remains unlikely.

Summary

The Vatican maintains good relations with largely Orthodox Serbia, particularly in comparison to the 1990s, when it clearly supported Catholic Croatia and Slovenia against Milošević’s Yugoslavia. The break-up of the latter has also changed the Vatican’s structural diplomacy, with the last constituent member (Montenegro) now being overseen not by the nunciature in Belgrade, as was the case previously, but by the Holy See’s legate in Sarajevo, Bosnia. This indicates that the Vatican considers both Bosnia and Montenegro to be ‘works in progress’ requiring a special approach, whereas Serbia is more stable.

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As mentioned, the Vatican has admitted it has understanding for the Serbian Orthodox Church’s historic presence in, and orientation towards Kosovo, and this is why it has not recognized the new state. Of course, this will change in the future, but Rome would like to see a recognition facilitated by mutual agreement between Belgrade and Pristina. Pope Francis has made Church Unity a major point of policy, and Serbia’s particular local realities indicate a case where the Holy See is trying to take a diplomatic approach.

We expect that the Catholic Church will increase schooling and charity activities in Serbia, particularly in the northern Vojvodina region, where live a notable minority of Hungarians (and others, such as Rusyns). The Vatican’s interest is partially due to traditional flock-tending, but also due to an increased Catholic exodus, as ethnic Hungarians are using their EU passports to seek greener pastures elsewhere in Europe.

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