BY SIMON CALDWELL
THE introduction of the Vatican's stock of the new European currency was held up on New Year's Day by Italian bureaucracy.
The Vatican's new euro currency was not ready for distribution on January 1 along with the currency from the European Union's 12 members due to problems with Italy's version of the euro.
The euro has replaced existing currency from 12 of the European Union's nations, with only Britain, Denmark, and Sweden abstaining from the unified monetary system.
But now the three have been inadvertently joined by the Vatican, whose coins will bear a depiction of the Pope's head.
The Church is blaming Italy for the hold-up because the Vatican's own coinage is produced and managed there and its distribution is dependent on the larger country. However, Italy has had difficulties getting the new currency into circulation. Because of the delay, the Vatican's 670,000 euro coins will not be available until February. John Paul II had expressed the hope that the euro would promote peace and prosperity in European Union countries, as well as solidarity and justice in the world.
On January 1, at the end of Mass for the World Day of Peace, at St Peter's Basilica, the Holy Father wished "peace and prosperity to the countries of the European Union, which today, with the single currency, attain a historic goal".
Following the recitation of 9
the Angelus, the Holy Father told the pilgrims in St Peter's Square that he hoped the euro would foster "the full development of the citizens of the different countries".
He said: "May justice and solidarity grow throughout Europe for the benefit of the whole human fami y!"