John Hopper at the Guardian laments the fact that the Vatican remains such a decidedly Italian, even Roman, institution. Of course, seeing as all the claims to papal authority are constructed on the fact that the Pope is the Bishop of Rome, it is hard to see how this can ever entirely change. Nor is it an entirely bad thing that the Vatican is so Roman. Cultures in countries that have vineyards seem decidedly less puritanical than those that lack them.
But, what was very funny in Hopper’s article was this observation: “This in turn is a reflection of how little the Vatican has been internationalised even though it is now 32 years since the last Italian pope.” I was reminded of an episode suring the American Revolution, when Benjamin Franklin, serving as an unofficial ambassador to the French Court, received the news that British General William Howe had taken Philadelphia.
“I beg your pardon, Sir,” Franklin rejoined, “but Philadelphia has taken Howe.”