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Report: Vatican Considered Expansion Plan at War’s End

January 3, 1996

ROME (AP) _ In the closing months of World War II, the Vatican drafted a plan to expand its autonomous area to include a stretch of land reaching to the sea, recently uncovered documents suggest.

The plan, masterminded by Pope Pius XII and close aides in 1944, was never pursued because an influential Vatican cleric stood up against it, the AGI news agency reported Tuesday.

The plan envisioned enlarging the Vatican city-state from its 106 acres adjacent to St. Peter’s Square to take in a corridor to the Tyrrhenian Sea, about 12 miles to the southwest.

The area would have included the town of Fiumicino and the site where Rome’s international airport was built in 1961. It also would have included Villa Pamphili, one of Rome’s largest parks, according to documents gathered by journalist Nicolo Grazioli.

Pius XII tried to take advantage of the turmoil following the collapse of Italy’s Fascist regime, Grazioli reported. The plan was drafted as a way of of getting compensation for the battle of Porta Pia, a 1870 conflict that forced the Vatican state to give up most of its territory.

Italy signed an accord in 1929 to give Vatican City political autonomy. Its government maintains embassies around the world, runs an independent postal system and mints its own coins.

The Vatican had no immediate comment on the AGI report.

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