Pope Benedict XVI drew a parallel between United Nations Headquarters in New York and the Vatican City today as two tiny geographical entities that are hubs with vast worldwide influence.
Vatican City is the world’s smallest fully independent nation-state, with a total area of 110 acres surrounded by Rome and a population of some 800.
UN Headquarters is “international territory” under an agreement with the United States, stretching over some 18 acres between New York’s East River and 1st Avenue, and 42nd and 48th Streets. It has no permanent residents although there is a bedroom attached to the Secretary-General’s 38th floor office.
“Here, within a small space in the busy city of New York, is housed an Organization with a worldwide mission to promote peace and justice,” the Pope told a meeting of UN staff during his Headquarters visit today.
“I am reminded of the similar contrast in scale between Vatican City State and the world in which the Church exercises her universal mission and apostolate.”
The Roman Catholic Church has 1.13 billion followers, according to the Vatican’s 2008 yearbook. The population of UN Member States is estimated at some 6.6 billion.