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The Holy See ( lat, Sancta Sedes, ; it, Santa Sede ), also called the See of Rome or Apostolic See, is the jurisdiction of the
Bishop of Rome A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Moravian Chu ...
, known as the
Pope The pope ( la, papa, from el, πάππας, translit=pappas, "father"), also known as the supreme pontiff () or the Roman pontiff (), is the bishop of Diocese of Rome, Rome, chief pastor of the worldwide Catholic Church, and head of state o ...

Pope
, which includes the apostolic
episcopal see The seat or ''cathedra'' of the Bishop of Rome in the Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran An episcopal see is, in the usual meaning of the phrase, the area of a bishop's ecclesiastical jurisdiction. Phrases concerning actions occurring within o ...
of the
Diocese of Rome The Diocese of Rome ( la, Dioecesis Urbis seu Romana; it, Diocesi di Roma) is the diocese, ecclesiastical district under the direct jurisdiction of the Pope, who is Bishop of Rome and hence the supreme pontiff and head of the worldwide Catholi ...
with universal
ecclesiastical jurisdiction Ecclesiastical jurisdiction signifies jurisdiction Jurisdiction (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from L ...
of the worldwide
Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian ...

Catholic Church
, as well as a
sovereign entity Sovereignty is the supreme authority within a territory. Sovereignty entails hierarchy within the state, as well as external autonomy for states. In any state, sovereignty is assigned to the person, body, or institution that has the ultimate au ...
of
international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally recognized as binding between nation A nation is a community A community is a social unitThe term "level of anal ...
, governing the
Vatican City Vatican City (), officially the Vatican City State ( it, Stato della Città del Vaticano; la, Status Civitatis Vaticanae),—' * german: Vatikanstadt, cf. '—' (in Austria: ') * pl, Miasto Watykańskie, cf. '—' * pt, Cidade do Vatica ...

Vatican City
. According to Catholic tradition it was founded in the first century by Saints Peter and Paul and, by virtue of
Petrine Petrine may refer to: * Saint Peter the Apostle, in Christianity, as in ''a Petrine text'' ** Petrine Cross ** Petrine ministry, the office of the Pope * Peter the Great, in Russia, as in ''the Petrine Revolution'' ** The ''post-Petrine era'', the H ...
and
papal primacy Papal primacy, also known as the primacy of the bishop of Rome, is a Christian ecclesiological In Christian theology, ecclesiology is the study of the Church (congregation), Church, the origins of Christianity, its relationship to Jesus, ...
, is the focal point of
full communion Full communion is a communion or relationship of full understanding among different Christian denomination A Christian denomination is a distinct Religion, religious body within Christianity that comprises all Church (congregation), church cong ...
for Catholic Christians around the world. As a sovereign entity, the Holy See is headquartered in, operates from, and exercises "exclusive dominion" over the independent
Vatican City State Vatican City (), officially the Vatican City State ( it, Stato della Città del Vaticano; la, Status Civitatis Vaticanae),—' * german: Vatikanstadt, cf. '—' (in Austria: ') * pl, Miasto Watykańskie, cf. '—' * pt, Cidade do Vatica ...

Vatican City State
enclave in Rome, of which the pope is
sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descende ...
. It is organized into
polities A polity is an identifiable political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between ind ...
of the
Latin Church , native_name_lang = la , image = San Giovanni in Laterano - Rome.jpg , imagewidth = 250px , alt = Façade of the Archbasilica of St. John in Lateran , caption = Archbasilica of Saint Joh ...
and the 23
Eastern Catholic Churches The Eastern Catholic Churches or Oriental Catholic Churches, also called the Eastern-rite Catholic Churches, Eastern Rite Catholicism, or simply the Eastern Churches, are twenty-three Eastern Christian Eastern Christianity comprises Chris ...
, and their
diocese In Ecclesiastical polity, church governance, a diocese or bishopric is the ecclesiastical district under the jurisdiction of a bishop. History In the later organization of the Roman Empire, the increasingly subdivided Roman province, prov ...
s and
religious institute A religious institute is a type of institute of consecrated life in the Catholic Church whose members take religious vows, religious vows and lead a life in community with fellow members. Religious institutes are one of the two types of institut ...
s. The Holy See is administered by the
Roman Curia The Roman Curia ( la, Romana Curia ministerium suum implent) comprises the administrative institutions of the Holy See The Holy See ( lat, Sancta Sedes, ; it, Santa Sede ), also called the See of Rome or Apostolic See, is the jurisdi ...
(Latin for "Court"), which is the central government of the Catholic Church. The Roman Curia includes various
dicasteries A dicastery (from gr, δικαστήριον, dikastērion, law-court, from δικαστής, 'judge, juror') is a department of the Roman Curia The Roman Curia ( la, Romana Curia ministerium suum implent) comprises the administrative ins ...
, comparable to ministries and executive departments, with the
Cardinal Secretary of State The Secretary of State of His Holiness ( it, Segretario di Stato di Sua Santità), commonly known as the Cardinal Secretary of State, presides over the Holy See The Holy See ( lat, Sancta Sedes, ; it, Santa Sede ), also called the See ...
as its chief administrator.
Papal elections A papal conclave is a gathering of the College of Cardinals The College of Cardinals, or more formally the Sacred College of Cardinals, is the body of all cardinals Cardinal or The Cardinal may refer to: Christianity * Cardinal ( ...
are carried out by the
College of Cardinals The College of Cardinals, or more formally the Sacred College of Cardinals, is the body of all Cardinal (Catholicism), cardinals of the Catholic Church. List of current cardinals, its current membership is 215. Cardinals are appointed by the ...
. Although the Holy See is sometimes metonymically referred to as the "Vatican", the Vatican City State was distinctively established with the
Lateran Treaty The Lateran Treaty ( it, Patti Lateranensi; la, Pacta Lateranensia) was one component of the Lateran Pacts of 1929, agreements between the Kingdom of Italy The Kingdom of Italy ( it, Regno d'Italia) was a state that existed from 1861—whe ...
of 1929, between the Holy See and Italy, to ensure the temporal, diplomatic, and spiritual independence of the papacy. As such, , who are papal diplomats to states and international organizations, are recognized as representing the Holy See, and ''not'' the Vatican City State, as prescribed in the
Canon law of the Catholic Church The canon law of the Catholic Church (Latin for "canon law": ''ius canonicum'') is the system A system is a group of interacting Interaction is a kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect upon one another. The idea of ...
. The Holy See is thus viewed as the central government of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church, in turn, is the largest non-government provider of
education Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, value (ethics), values, morals, beliefs, habits, and personal development. Educational methods include teaching, training, storytelling, discussion ...
and
health care Healthcare is the maintenance or improvement of health Health, according to the , is "a state of complete physical, and social and not merely the absence of and ".. (2006)''Constitution of the World Health Organization''– ''Basic Docume ...
in the world. The diplomatic status of the Holy See facilitates the access of its vast international network of
charities A charitable organization or charity is an organization whose primary objectives are philanthropy and social well-being (e.g. educational, religious Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, b ...
. The Holy See maintains bilateral diplomatic relations with 183 sovereign states, signs
concordat A concordat is a convention between the Holy See The Holy See ( lat, Sancta Sedes, ; it, Santa Sede ), also called the See of Rome, is the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope, which includes the apostolic see, apostolic e ...
s and treaties, and performs multilateral diplomacy with multiple
intergovernmental organization An intergovernmental organization (IGO) is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (referred to as ''member states''), or of other organizations through formal treaties for handling/serving common interests and governed by interna ...
s, including the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization aiming to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harm ...

United Nations
and its agencies, the
Council of Europe The Council of Europe (CoE; french: Conseil de l'Europe, ) is an international organisation ''International Organization'' is a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal that covers the entire field of international relations, international aff ...

Council of Europe
, the
European Communities The European Communities (EC), sometimes referred to as the European Community, were three international organizations that were governed by the same set of institutions Institutions, according to Samuel P. Huntington, are "stable, valued, ...
, the
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is the world's largest security-oriented intergovernmental organization An intergovernmental organization (IGO) is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (refer ...
, and the
Organization of American States The Organization of American States (OAS; es, Organización de los Estados Americanos, pt, Organização dos Estados Americanos, french: Organisation des États américains; ''OEA'') is an international organization An international organi ...

Organization of American States
.


Terminology

The word "see" comes from the Latin word ''sedes'', meaning 'seat', which refers to the throne (
cathedra A ''cathedra'' is the raised throne A throne is the seat of state of a potentate or dignitary {{Short pages monitor {{Authority control Holy See,