Italy is reeling in shock today after the Vatican announced its decision to move the headquarters of the Roman Catholic church out of Italy.
In a statement to the press, Vatican spokesman Cardinal Goffredo Peccato said the decision by Italy’s Monti led government to tax church premises had caused the Holy See to rethink its commitment to Italy.
Most of the Vatican City will be formally handed back to Italy by the end of this year. Church authorities stated that St Peter’s would be transformed into a museum of Roman Catholicism.
The Sistine Chapel is to be de-consecrated and converted into a restaurant.
New Vatican HQ in Brazil?
So far, the Vatican has not said where it will set up its new worldwide headquarters although sources close to the Pope say that Brazil may well be the new location for Vatican II.
Also suggesting that Brazil may well be the location of the new Vatican is an application made by the Diocese of Brasilia for outline permission to construct a “religious institution” on a substantial tract of land on the outskirts of the Brazilian capital.
Monasteries and Convents Italy to Close
Italian hotel magnate Simone Soggiorno greeted the Vatican closure news with enthusiasm and stated he was very interested in converting vacated monasteries into luxury hotels and casinos. Soggiorno pointed out that many buildings owned by the Vatican in Italy were already 5 star hotels, so he does not envisage problems converting former church premises, or, he said, transforming a few convents into casinos.
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“The location of some of Italy’s monasteries is fabulous”, said Soggiorno, “They will make simply amazing luxury hotels and casinos”.
Vatican Closure to Hit Rome
The owner of the Pilgrim Hotel in Rome, Marco Prenotato commented that the Vatican move would damage his business considerably as most of his clients only come to Rome to visit St Peter’s and to hear the Pope’s weekly address.
Many other hotels in Rome will also be affected by the closure of the Vatican which will lead to a distinct downturn in their business.
Some Italians Happy
Other Italians, such as professed communist Marta Maggiolino, welcomed the Vatican move, “This should mean the Roman Catholic Church will stop meddling in Italy’s affairs”, she commented.
A Blow to Italy
Regardless of the opinions, the closure of the Vatican is a blow to Italy’s prestige.
Not only will Italy’s importance as a centre for religious tourism diminish, but the move will damage the reputation of numerous political parties in Italy – many of whom use their association with the Vatican to earn votes.
More on the closure of the Vatican can be found here: Vatican Move
Brasilia cathedral photograph by Agência Brasil, a public Brazilian news agency.