State Secretariat (Vatican)

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Basic data
Surname: State Secretariat
( Secretaria Status )
Seat: Apostolic Palace , Vatican City
Cardinal Secretary of State : Pietro Cardinal Parolin
Chief of Protocol:
Joseph Murphy
Archbishop Jan Romeo Pawłowski
Substitute: Edgar Peña Parra
Secretary: Paul Gallagher
Assessor: Luigi Roberto Cona
Undersecretary: Mirosław Stanisław Wachowski
Francesca Di Giovanni

The State Secretariat ( Latin Secretariatus Status ) is the most important dicastery of the Roman Curia . It maintains the diplomatic relations of the Holy See with other states and is responsible for the politics of the Holy See and thus also of Vatican City. The State Secretariat is divided into the Section for General Affairs and the Section for Relations with States .


The State Secretariat is a creation of the modern age, but is based on the medieval institution of the papal secretaries, first demonstrable in Avignon in 1338, it was created according to English-French. Idol. Her task consisted of political and financial correspondence, her relationship also to documents of the papal chancellery and papal chamber expanded her circle and in the 15th century made it seem possible to entrust her own secret secretaries with confidential correspondence. The transition to the formation of one's own authority has not yet been researched, but its nucleus was the independent registry management by the secretaries. The establishment of the permanent nunciatures since 1500 required an office that processed the reports of the nuncios and sent them the Pope's instructions. The previous Secretarius secretus was in charge . At the same time there was the transition from the breve to the informal letter and the diplomatic dispatch, which was also used in communications with other correspondents. The secretary was always subordinate, only a cardinal was authorized to sign, usually a nephew of the Pope, hence also known as the cardinal depository. The secretary was subordinate to the Pope and the nephew at the same time, but he had the right to speak to the Pope. Around 1570 his office comprised a few clerks, an archivist and a cipher secretary, the secretary for the Latin letters and the secretary for the briefs to the princes were dependent. In 1605 the title of State Secretary appears for the first time. The growing tasks of papal diplomacy subsequently led to the expansion of the State Secretariat; the secretary was assisted by a substitute, minions took care of the drafts for the correspondence, and the state secretary, a cardinal since 1644 , became the chief minister from the only minions for secret correspondence . He was only formally given independent responsibility in his business area when the Constitution Romanum decet Pontificem Innocent XII. abolished the office of cardinal nepot on June 22, 1692. With this, the State Secretary also took over his business area. Since then, his office has also dealt with the internal affairs of the Papal States.

After a reform by Cardinal Ercole Consalvi , which only affected the functioning, Pope Gregory XVI established on February 20, 1833 an independent secretariat for internal affairs under its own secretary, Pope Pius IX. on August 1, 1846, it was again subordinated to the State Secretariat as the 2nd section; the line had a substitute. On January 1, 1848, the ministerial constitution was also introduced in the Papal States, the State Secretariat only dealt with foreign policy, the Ministry of the Interior was independent, with the Prime Minister standing above it. After the assassination of Pellegrino Rossi in 1848, Pope Pius IX returned. back to the old system, and Giacomo Antonelli was once again first minister as State Secretary. The loss of the papal state again restricted the State Secretariat to dealing with foreign affairs. Since the Constitution Sapienti consilio passed by Pope Pius X on June 29, 1908, the State Secretariat has been divided into three departments. The Section for Extraordinary Affairs , the Section for Ordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs and the Secretariat for the Apostolic Breven . Pope Paul VI incorporated the Apostolic Chancellery into the State Secretariat on February 27, 1973 with the Motu proprio Quo aptius .

General Affairs Section

The General Affairs Section (also known as the First Section ) is the largest division of the State Secretariat. She maintains regular correspondence with the nunciatures, as well as negotiations with diplomats from foreign powers. The section is headed by a substitute with the rank of archbishop and an assessor.

Section for Relations with States

The Section for Relations with the States (also known as the Second Section ) deals with the Church's relations with state governments and is responsible for concluding and implementing concordats. It is directed by a secretary with the rank of Archbishop, commonly referred to as the "Vatican Foreign Minister" (currently Paul Gallagher ). An undersecretary reports to the secretary. The section is divided into eight offices organized by language.

See also: List of Cardinal Secretaries of State

Substitutes of the Vatican State Secretariat

Secretaries for Relations with the States

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