The Catholic Church: forever associated with peace and good judgment. Well, that’s if you ignore the Northern crusades and the conversion of Africa. In any case, in honour of World Youth Day in Sydney this WTF Place is Vatican City.
Located somewhere in Rome, Vatican City is a country unto itself. It has its own flag, passport, laws and even military and police. It has only been an autonomous region since 1929 when the Lateran Treaty was agreed upon by the Italian government and the Holy See. There have been few major disputes between the Italian State and Vatican City. The most major was when Italy prohibited Italians from marrying Jews and the Holy See felt that this was a job that belonged solely to the Catholic Church. The Vatican didn’t oppose the policy, they just wanted to enforce it.
When you think of cities with high crime rates you immediately think of Johannesburg, Sao Paulo, New York and Darwin. If I told you the Vatican has a crime rate much higher than all of those, you’d laugh at me.
“Catholics committing a crime? Lol!” You’d say.
Then I’d say, “No. It’s true!”
That fact is, a simple Google search reveals that Vatican has a crime rate higher than all of the aforementioned cities. In 1992, civil offenses were at 87.2% whereas penal offenses were at 134% according to a BBC report titled Vatican Crime Rate Soars (2003). Compare this with Johannesburg which has a comparatively low crime rate of 24% (93 – 97 Victims Survey). WTF!?
Most of these crimes, however, are petty theft and pickpocketing and not murders, rapes and Insane Clown Posse performances (zing!). But it must be noted that this is also the case for the number given for Johannesburg above (Joburg has a serious crime rate of around 15%). The Holy See used to threaten anyone who committed one of the former crimes with execution. WTF!? Fortunately this was never exercised and the Holy See relieved its dusty guillotine of duty in 1969.
There is a fact widely bandied around that the national language of the Vatican is Latin. This is blatantly false. In fact, the Vatican does not have any national language: official business is conducted in Italian, military and police commands are given in German (has nothing to do with Ratzinger) and residents take oaths in their own native languages.
But that’s not all, folks. The Vatican has a few further surprises up its sleeves that one discovers when removing his trouser. Because the Virgin Mary was, well, a virgin, she didn’t get a lot of action. And her holy nature, I’m guessing, also prohibited her from taking a look-see when the chance arose. To reward her for her life of abstinence (and bearing Jesus), she has been embodied in Vatican City’s urinals where she can forever look at what she was deprived of in life. Vatican urinals are cast as statues of Mary with a downward gaze angled at the general genital region. If this doesn’t award Vatican City a further WTF!? then I don’t know what does.
Vatican City. I’d like to go there someday. Actually, no I wouldn’t. I’d get robbed.
WTF count: 3 (warm)
For more info on Vatican crime:
* This author recognises that the high crime rates for Vatican City arise because of the sheer number of visitors who commit crimes. But that doesn’t make for interesting writing, does it?