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Vatican may seek full membership in United Nations. (People & Events).

The Roman Catholic Church may soon seek full membership in the United Nations, a top church official has indicated.

Currently, the Vatican has permanent observer status at the UN, a status it has held since 1964. In late November, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, said the church is interested in seeking full UN membership, especially if the enhanced status would enable it to perform a peace-keeping role in the world.

The Vatican, Sodano told Corriere della Sera, is studying "possible forms of a greater presence in that assembly." He said that could include full UN membership "if it should be useful."

"In that organization, there were two permanent observers--Switzerland and us," Sodano told the newspaper. "Now Switzerland has become a member and we are alone. The form of our presence is an open question."

As a permanent observer, Vatican officials are allowed to take part in UN discussions and debate but do not vote at the general assembly. The Vatican is permitted to vote at UN-sponsored international conferences, where it often sides with hard-line Islamic states to block reproductive fights initiatives. Increasingly, the United States has sided with the Vatican in these votes as well.

Sodano said the Vatican's role at the UN is to undertake "discreet and patient work to promote peace and make the Christian message known."

Other Vatican officials are apparently thinking along the same lines. Archbishop Renato R. Martino, who recently completed a 16-year term as the Vatican's UN representative, was asked by Catholic News Service if the Vatican should seek full membership in the international body. He replied, "I think it's time."

No other religious body has official representation at the United Nations. The Holy See, as the Vatican's operation is known, has diplomatic ties with 170 countries, including the United States.
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Publication:Church & State
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4EUIT
Date:Feb 1, 2003
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