Vatican City-Pope Benedict XVI made his first public appearance today, acknowledging the throngs of faithful from the balcony of the papal apartment. Amidst all the mutually heartfelt joy, though, came a bombshell-the Vatican is moving.
"For thousands of years, through countless times of war, famine, plague, and pestilence," said the official press release from Vatican.com, "the center of the Catholic Church, and the home of the holy father, has been the Vatican in Rome. Pope Benedictine wants to meet the challenges of the new millennium by making the Vatican more accessible to the faithful.
"Although the majority of the faithful now live in the southern hemisphere, the Pope is studying many locations throughout the world, and absolutely nothing has been eliminated, as of yet, from the list of possible cities."
"That may be true," said Peter Pellicules, "but there are only so many that will be able to meet our terms." Pellicules is the newly hired Senior Vice President of International Development for the Vatican. He most recently worked with the International Olympic Committee and was instrumental in selecting Salt Lake City for the 2002 winter games. "The recent death of Pope John Paul II illustrates the power of the Vatican itself to draw people to a city such as Rome. The value to the city, not only in terms of nearness and dearness of the Church itself, but to its economy simply cannot be overstated. In fact, it can hardly be put in to words."
"For example," Pellicules went on, "There were literally hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who came to Rome to view the body of our poor beloved ex-Pope. If every one of those pilgrims spent, say, only 100 Euros, then you have a "spike" in spending of tens of millions of Euros. And that's just when the Pope dies. Countless tourists visit the Vatican every year, spending millions upon millions of Euros.
"The Vatican itself is, inter alia, one of the World's most important museums. It is a feast for the eyes, and the soul, and is at the top of the list for nearly every traveler to Italy, and Europe in general."
"Having the Vatican embedded in your market is like having the World Cup one week, the World Series the next week, the Super Bowl the next week, and on and on and on. Whatever city eventually gains the favor of the Pope will have committed itself financially on a scale rarely, if ever, seen before," said Pellicules.
Cities such as Los Angeles and New York are clear favorites due to large populations of Catholics and tourists, and ease of international travel; however, smaller cities, such as Orlando, Florida are most definitely in the running. In fact, many "in-the-know" consider Las Vegas to be the dark-horse favorite, since Steve Winn, Sheldon Adelson and Kirk Kirkorian have recently, and hurriedly, converted to Catholicism.
The question naturally arises: what will become of the city state that we now know as the Vatican? This reporter put that question to Pellicules.
"There are several other nation-states that have the financial wherewithal to essentially ‘move' themselves to the land that has heretofore been known as 'The Vatican'," he said. "Some of the names that come to mind are Kuwait, Bahrain, Lichtenstein and Monaco. We plan to sublet it with a 99 year term."