Pacem in Terris: Are Papal Visits Good News for Human Rights?

Posted: 21 Sep 2020 Last revised: 25 Feb 2022

See all articles by Marek Endrich

Marek Endrich

Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)

Jerg Gutmann

University of Hamburg - Institute of Law and Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

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Date Written: February 22, 2022

Abstract

We analyze the effect of state visits by the Catholic pope on human rights in the host country to understand how a small theocracy like the Vatican can exert disproportionate political influence in international politics. Our theoretical model of the strategic interaction between the Catholic Church and host governments shows how the pope’s use of conditional approval and criticism incentivizes governments to refrain from human rights violations. Drawing on a new dataset of papal state visits outside Italy and a novel identification strategy, we test for the first time whether governments react by improving human rights protection in anticipation of a papal visit. Our empirical analysis offers robust evidence in support of this causal effect.

Keywords: Catholic Church; human rights; international political economy; pope; repression; rewards; sanctions

JEL Classification: D74; D78; F5; K38; P16; P26; P48; Z12

Suggested Citation

Endrich, Marek and Gutmann, Jerg, Pacem in Terris: Are Papal Visits Good News for Human Rights? (February 22, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3672171 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3672171

Marek Endrich (Contact Author)

Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) ( email )

Pleinlaan 2
http://www.vub.ac.be/
Brussels, 1050
Belgium

Jerg Gutmann

University of Hamburg - Institute of Law and Economics ( email )

Johnsallee 35
Hamburg, 20148
Germany

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

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