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Perspectives review: Holy See's actorness?

New research article: "A State, a Diplomat, and a Transnational Church: The Multi-layered Actorness of the Holy See" Author: Mariano Barbato (DAAD-Lecturer and Director of the Center for European Studies and International Relations (ZEWI) at the BBU Cluj-Napoca, Romania, and Lecturer (Privatdozent) at the University of Passau, Germany; Research interests: European and global transformation, religion and politics.) Review by: Jana Kotasová  

Did you know that Pope Francis is ranked at number 4 on the Forbes list of the most influential people on earth? Have you been wondering if Pope can be described as a proper actor on the international stage? And how does IR theory regard this case, if at all?

The article written by Mariano Barbato deals with the ‘Holy See’ and his multi-layered role in the society. “Three levels are of particular importance here: 1) the Church: the Holy See has a power base of one billion faithful almost all over the world […]; 2) the State: the Holy See has a territorial base […]; 3) the Diplomat: the Holy See is accepted as a sovereign and special peer among states in diplomatic respects.” Claiming that actorness is the key to understanding the Holy See’s persistence and influence as a political actor, Barbato first tries to turn to literature for answers. However, little has been written on the subject. Therefore, selecting the English school and constructivist approaches as the most fitting to analyse the different layers, Barbato tries to understand why the Pope plays such a dominant role in the powerful, multi-level game.

Pope is important because “he acts as a sovereign within his church, within his city state, and particularly within the international society.” During the course of history, however, the role changed. His star rose in unprecedented way especially during the Cold War and the fall of communism under the pontificate of John Paul II. He also established diplomatic relations with almost all states and, what is most significant, the relations with the EU. Additionally, he acts as a permanent observer to the UN and many other international organizations like UNESCO, the Council of Europe, the African Union, and the World Trade Organization.

The topic of the Pope’s influence in the international politics is baffling believers, atheists and academics as well. If you want to learn more then, do not miss to read this article!

Read the whole article in the latest issue of Perspectives (Vol. 21, No. 2, 2013) in your library or order one online today!

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