Creative Destruction

January 23, 2007

Is the Vatican a Rogue State?

Filed under: Criminal Justice,Ethics — Brutus @ 3:38 pm

This link to a story in Spiegel International Online offers this juicy first paragraph:

The Vatican’s attorney general Nicola Picardi released the astounding statistic at the start of 2007: The tiny nation’s justice department in 2006 had to contend with 341 civil and 486 criminal cases. In a population of 492, that measures out to 1.5 cases per person — twenty times the corresponding rate in Italy.

How ironic is it that Vatican City has the highest per capita crime rate? Apparently, a lot of it is the result of pilgrims, tourists, and visitors to St. Peter’s Cathedral. And besides, Vatical City is completely surrounded by Italy, which has developed a reputation in recent years for brazen pickpocketing and victimization of visitors.


  1. This is a case of skewed population figures.

    Daytime population is a better measure than resident population.

    For the same reason, many police don’t report crime rates for central business districts which have low resident population, high daytime population and crime associated with the daytime population.

    I suspect that average daily visitors exceeds 10,000, implying a crime rate equal to or less than Italy.

    Civil suits likely have a “District of Columbia” effect, where any suit against a large entity (like a federal government agency or a Vatican agency) must be brought in that venue, regardless of where it occurs. One might bring suit there, for example, in a dispute between Jesuits and Franciscans over some real estate in New Jersey.

    Comment by ohwilleke — January 23, 2007 @ 4:02 pm | Reply

  2. Party-pooper. It was much more fun thinking of Vatican City as the destination of choice for criminals. The number of Swiss guards on hand does lend itself to a sort of siege mentality. But you’re absolutely right in your explanation of skewed population figures, I suspect.

    Comment by Brutus — January 23, 2007 @ 6:09 pm | Reply

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