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Holy See[1] [print]

Last edited: May 2006


Summary and Analysis


The Holy See signed and ratified the CRC April 20, 1990.[2]  The Holy See is unique among the parties to the Convention, in that it does not have any children under its legal jursdiction.  The Holy See employs no one under the age of 18.[3]  Though it is not totally clear how the Holy See would handle civil protective issues if they arose, it is likely that they would defer to the Italian legal system.[4]  The Holy See has explicitly said that any criminal abuse issues arising under its jurisdiction would be handled by the Italian courts.[5]  More generally, the Holy See has legal jurisdiction over the Vatican solely to guarantee its autonomy, and not to exert direct legal power.[6] 


However, the Holy See recognizes a universal moral and religious mission that extends across the world, and for this reason joined in the ratification of the Convention.[7]  The Holy See affirms the importance of respecting the dignity of the child.[8]


Related Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)


International Law


Convention on the Rights of the Child

Article 12


1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.


Local Contact Information


Pontifical Council for the Family

Piazza San Calisto, 16
00120 Vatican City State



Additional Resources and Links


Vatican Website


Provides general information on the Vatican City and links to numerous resources on its policies, laws, etc.


Vatican Website Canon Law


Provides a searchable database of canon law and official Church documents.



[1]This page is available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[2] For a list of signatories to the convention and signature and ratification dates, see the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights website, http://www.ohchr.org/english/countries/ratification/11.htm

[3] U.N. Comm. on the Rights of the Child [CRC], Summary Record of the 225th meeting: Holy See, ¶ 17, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/SR.256 (Nov. 17, 1995). 

[4] For the legal process of Italian child protective proceedings, see the front page on Italy available here.

[5] Id.

[6] U.N. Comm. on the Rights of the Child [CRC], Initial reports of States parties due in 1992: Holy See, ¶ 1-2, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/3/Add.27 (Mar. 28, 1994).

[7] Id. ¶ 1.

[8] Id. ¶ 3.


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