Banner Image

Research Guide to the Law of the Vatican City State: Introduction


This research guide is aimed at assisting legal researchers at the Catholic University of America in finding information about the structure and organization of the temporal law of the Vatican City State (VCS).  Materials listed can be found in the Judge Kathryn J. DuFour Law Library at the Catholic University of America.             

Researching the civil and temporal laws of the VCS can be both frustrating and challenging.  The frustration lies in the inevitable intertwining of the State’s laws with the laws that govern the Roman Catholic Church in the identity of the Holy See, while the challenge is to separate the two.  Inevitably, given the constitutional makeup of the nation and the sovereign powers accorded the Supreme Pontiff, there is a limit to the extent to which one can identify and separate the two legal systems.  It is therefore very important for a researcher in this area to distinguish between sources referring to the Holy See (Canon law) and sources referring to the Vatican City State (temporal law).  The majority of sources that exist deal with the Holy See, and some of these sources will come up with a Vatican City subject heading.  It is highly recommended that the researcher consult the materials listed in this pathfinder before attempting a broader search to familiarize himself with the relevant terms and subject matter.

A more extensive research guide is Stephen Young & Alison Shea, "Separating State from Church: A Research Guide to the Law of the Vatican City State." 99 Law Library Journal 589 (2007).

An abbreviated and updated version of the guide by Alison Shea is available on Globalex.

Map of the VCS

Subject Guide

Essential Texts

Judge Kathryn J. DuFour Law Library / 3600 John McCormack Road N.E., Washington, DC 20064 / 202-319-5155