The Catholic Union consists of the UPA Region, LPA Region and LA Region (see below for details on each region).
The Vatican is the controlling national governmental body of the Catholic Union, and the Vatican in turn is run by three human popes and the artificial intelligence known as the Godhead. Each Pope also heads up a specific region of the Catholic Union, though no pope actually “rules” a single region; merely serves as a sort of de facto administrator of it. Provinces within regions are controlled by governors, who are considered both governmental and religious figures (they are required to take vows, even if they have no theological background). If a province is large enough, important enough or populous enough to be separated into states, those states are headed up by prefects, who, like governors, must take religious vows before they can take office. Counties (usually called parishes) and cities/towns/villages follow varying models of adminstrative authority, but consuls, mayor and managers are the most popular models, and all such positions are strictly civil, with no vows required.
Freedom of religious expression is mostly allowed, but faiths other than the Terran Catholic Church are sharply curtailed and regulated. The practice of Islam is even more sharply controlled and was at one point so persecuted as to be virtually forbidden, but that has eased up somewhat in recent decades because of lingering guilt over the near-destruction of the Islamic world (see Major events and technological breakthroughs page). The only religion that is actively forbidden is the Universal Faith Catholic (UFC Church), with which the Vatican is essentially at war, and which the Popes and Godhead have declared a heretical institution.
Although the single most powerful nation in the solar system, the Catholic Union has been kept from unchecked advancement primarily because it faces the most internal disruption from terrorist and rebel groups of any other nation and because it must devote so many resources to its massive bureaucracy, which runs many of the aspects of daily life—including many of the major businesses, since only about half of companies based in the Catholic Union are fully private enterprises.
Despite its highly repressive sexual, marriage and procreation laws (and limitations on travel outside the Union), the Catholic Union actually offers a high standard of living to many of its citizens, and thus sees little in terms of mass citizen unrest. It is also a very popular tourist destination, as premarital sex is the only vice on which the Vatican focuses a truly harsh eye. Gambling, drinking, smoking, most recreational drug use and the like are allowable and even encouraged in some ways. The Catholic Union offers the best (and most) casinos on the planet, almost all of the highest rated resorts, and more than half of the best-rated eateries, restaurants and taverns on Earth.
The most serious crime in the Catholic Union is abortion, and for a citizen of the Catholic Union to obtain one, either within the Vatican’s sphere of authority or in another country, is considered the highest act of murder and, indeed, an act of terrorism as well. Use of prophylactic devices or contraceptive drugs is also a very serious crime, sitting somewhere between premeditated murder and kidnapping on the scale of judicial severity. Sexual intercourse before marriage is also a serious crime, though it is more of a high-level misdemeanor-style crime than a felonious one. (Note that visitors to the Catholic Union are largely immune from prosecution for use of contraceptives or practicing premarital sex as long as their activities are kept to their private rooms in resorts that they are visiting. Outside of resort zones or in public and semi-public areas of resorts, sexual crimes like those can be [and sometimes are] prosecuted by the Vatican against non-citizens.)
Homosexual intercourse is also a crime in the Catholic Union. It is treated as a serious crime, just a step or two below the crime of using contraception. As with the case of premarital sex and contraception use above, non-citizens in resort zones are theoretically immune from prosecution, but it has been noted that the Vatican is more likely to harass or even arrest non-citizens for homosexuality. Masturbation is a minor crime, punishable by small fines, and almost wholly unenforceable of course—though it is theoretically possible that if one was charged with numerous violations of masturbation laws one could be sentenced to imprisonment for enforced counseling.
The sources of the Vatican’s views toward “crimes of the flesh” are multiple. Of course, there is the traditional and longstanding view of popes throughout the ages that abortion and contraception are sinful and inappropriate. But also, in the Renewal Era and thereafter, repopulating the planet was a key concern of the Vatican, given the huge loss of life worldwide. This was a particular concern in areas where the Vatican held sway and began to take an active role in controlling as it became a governmental institution and not just a religious one. (Also note that the Vatican engaged in genetic and pharmacological measures that resulted in a notable increase of the female population vis-a-vis males, also to help bring more humans into the world; although such efforts are no longer actively pursued, the percentage of the population that is female continues to be high, at 59%, though this is down from previous levels of 61% to 68%.)
In the Modern Era, of course, policies against contraception and abortion raise the specter of overpopulation, which is a concern for the Vatican, as the Catholic Union is already large and challenging to manage. As such, there have been sharp restrictions on marriage as well in the century leading up to the Fourth Millennium. Adults can begin official courtship any time after the age of 21, and this is roughly analogous to an engagement, except that it also has legal elements and not simply social ones. Couples can officially petition for the marriage sacrament when both people are at least 25. Roughly half of those who apply at that age are approved. Most others are approved no later than age 28.
Once a couple is married, they may legally engage in sexual intercourse. However, they are not supposed to have children until approved to do so, which happens no earlier than two years after marriage and no later than four years after marriage. Obviously, this poses a challenge, as there is the possibility of the couple becoming pregnant before being cleared to do so. As such, couples are encouraged to use natural family planning methods to avoid conception. If a pregnancy does occur before approval, it is not considered a crime. However, it is considered a civil violation and carries with it fines and tax penalties for the couple. Interestingly, it is also considered a civil violation to fail to have children during the marriage once approved to do so. Couples that have not borne at least one child after 8 years of marriage are required to undergo medical and psychological counseling to ensure conception. Couples that are unable to conceive are required to adopt or to petition for banked sperm and/or ova from fertile citizens so that a child can be produced on their behalf, either in the wife or via a surrogate mother.
Divorce is forbidden in the Catholic Union—for any reason. In cases of domestic violence or similar irreconcilable differences, couples may physically separate, but they may not divorce and may not remarry. Remarriage in only allowable in the event that a spouse dies.
As part of laws still on the books as part of Vatican repopulation efforts and the overabundance of women compared to men, men are allowed to take a second wife, known as a maidwife. This is not practiced very often now, but is carried out often enough to be noticeable in society. Mostly, however, it is now rich or privileged men who are given permission to have two wives.
The Upper Pacific-Atlantic (UPA) Region is one of two complete continents controlled by the Vatican and one of the three largest areas in the Vatican overall. It is, essentially, what we know of as North America, Central America and the Caribbean today. This is the region in which the Black Pope keeps his main headquarters, in Nova Roma in the Yucatan Province. It is also the region in which the Central Bureau Offices of the Vatican are located (along with the Godhead), also in Nova Roma. One of the Vatican’s largest prison complexes is also located in the UPA, in the Yukkon Province of the Canuck Territories.
The Lower Pacific-Atlantic (LPA) Region is one of two complete continents controlled by the Vatican and one of the three largest areas in the Vatican overall. It is, essentially, what we know of as South America today. The White Pope’s main headquarters is in this region, as well as the central offices of the Dry Sisterhood and the massive University of Saints Peter and Paul, the largest higher-educational institution in the Solar System.
The Lower African (LA) Region is the smallest of the Vatican’s three incorporated regions, and encompasses roughly one-third of the southern part of the African mainland continent, as well as the island of Madagascar. A couple small portions of the Middle East that are currently under full Vatican control are considered part of the LA Region, as are several nations in The Asian Republics and a couple nations that were once part of Eastern Europa that have allied themselves as protectorate states but not full members of the Catholic Union.
Also part of the LA Region is Israel, which currently occupies the area known as Israel today, as well as portions of what are currently Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran—though Israel is designated neither as a Catholic Union state nor as a protectorate of the Vatican (see entry for Israel below). The LA Region is home to the main headquarters of the Red Pope. This is the most volatile part of the Catholic Union, as there are frequent political and military skirmishes with Old Africa and with the remnants of the Arab Middle East, particularly those with Muslim connections. The Vatican has been attempting to lure independent nations of Africa that lie between Old Africa and the LA Region into its fold as well as states that are officially in Old Africa. The most recent nation to be pulled into the Catholic Union, currently as a protectorate, is the independent nation of Uhuru, which had been a close ally to Old Africa for years previous.
Occupying a peculiar role, Israel is now under the control of the Vatican, the “nation” having been both recreated by the Vatican in the aftermath of the Conflagration and vastly expanded in size during the Modern Era with aid from the Catholic Union. The turning point for Israel losing its independence occurs after the Vatican’s Final Crusade conflict with the Muslim world, which also did great damage to the Arab world in general and caught Israel in its wake as well (see “The Final Crusade” entry on the Major events and technological breakthroughs page)
During the Renewal Period, Israel was entirely sovereign and often worked with the Vatican on social matters and peace-brokering efforts. During most of the Modern Era as well, Israel remained independent, although it worked less and less closely with the Catholic Union as the Vatican became more and more repressive.
Now, in the aftermath of the Final Crusade and in the Catholic Union’s continuing drive to expand, some 70% of the world’s Jews live in Israel, whether by choice or by order of the Vatican. At this point, rather than being considered a sovereign nation or a part of the Catholic Union, Israel is maintained as a reservation.
In fact, the Vatican has effectively sealed off Israel from the rest of the world and this has earned the Catholic Union a great deal of scorn for having created what many say amounts to a Jewish “zoo.” Conflicts and political arguments related to Israel are the second biggest cause of chaos in the LA Region after conflicts with Old Africa.
Provinces and States of the Catholic Union
This encompasses the nations that are today located from Yucatan in the north and then southward to roughly where Nicaragua begins, and eastward to cover all the islands of the Caribbean. The largest city in this region (and by far the largest city on Earth) is Nova Roma, which takes up the area that is today Belize (plus a little more land to the north and the west) and which serves both as capital of the UPA and capital of the Yucatan Province, as well as de facto capital of the Catholic Union. The mainland portion of this province is the state of Guatema and the island portion is the state of Cariba. The Tower of the Black Pope is located in the northern portion of Nova Roma, the Central Bureau Offices of the Vatican are located in the western part of the city and the Godhead resides in the southern portion of the city.
From what we today know as Nicaragua (most of the country, anyway), all the way through Panama.
This is more or less the western portion of what is today known as Mexico. It is composed of the states of Juarez, Mexico and Oaxaca.
This is pretty much what we today consider the eastern portion of Mexico, most of Texas, plus Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, most of Mississippi and a small portion of western Tennessee. The capital of the province is the city of Houston, a megalopolis that extends to the coast of Alamo Gulf (which we call the Gulf of Mexico today). This province has three states: Teja, Orleans and Rockland.
This is what we today would think of as British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California, western Nevada, western Arizona and Baja California. The states in this province are Columbia, Vancouver, Seaport, California, Angela and Dimas.
This is one of three provinces that lie within what is called the Canuck Territories. It encompasses what today is Alaska, the Yukon Territory and the Northwest Territories. The Vatican’s largest prison complex is located in this province, in the state of Arctica. The other two states in this province are Anchorage and MacKenzie.
This is the most desolate and most sparsely populated of all Vatican provinces. It is what is currently the Canadian province of Nunavut, plus a small section of what is today the Northwest Territories and a small portion of northern Manitoba. It has no states and is rumored to be home to several secret research stations, interrogation facilities and covert prisons. It is one of three provinces that lie within the Canuck Territories.
The third province in the Canuck Territories, this province is what we today view as Alberta, Saskatchewan, most of Manitoba, Ontario, most of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. The states in the Hudson Province are Calgary, Sasqua, Ontario, Saint Paul and Meris. The Papal Jurisprudence Tower, the seat of the judicial branches of the Catholic Union’s government, is located in this province, in the state of Ontario.
The “Mountain States” area of today’s United States, pretty much, from Montana and North Dakota down though Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, most of Arizona and Nevada, New Mexico and a small potion of today’s Texas. The states of this region are Dakotus, Phoenicia and Deva.
What is today South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, southern Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, western Kentucky and central Tennessee. The states in this province are Nordica, Illini, Kansouri, and Nash.
This is what we think of today as Florida, Alabama, eastern Tennessee, Georgia, the Carolinas, eastern Kentucky, Ohio, the Virginias, Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia. This province’s states are Nassau, Floridia, Carola and Norfolk. MiamiDade, a large city in the state of Nassau, is home to one of the three largest Sistercamps of the Dry Sisters.
This province encompasses today’s Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, the entire New England area, Quebec, Newfoundland, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The largest city in this province (and the second largest in the world) is Nova York, which is capital of both the York Province and the state of Jericho, as well as the home of the main headquarters of the Office Templar of the UPA region. In addition to the state of Jericho, other states in this province are: Philos, Quebec, Bostonia, Dirigo and Charlotte.
The far northern portion of today’s South America (most of Colombia, part of Brazil, Venezuela, Suriname, Guyana and French Guiana). It consists of two states: Magdalena and Mercedes.
What is today Ecuador, Peru, the southern tip of Colombia, northern Bolivia and northwestern Brazil. The city of Gloria is in this province, in the state of Lima, and is home to the Tower of the White Pope as well as being capital of the province and of the LPA region. In addition to the state of Lima, there are the states of Equinox and Paz. Porto Lima, in the state of Lima, is also home to one of the three largest Sistercamps of the Dry Sisters. The headquarters of the Dry Sisters, however, is in the city of Trinity, in the state of Paz.
This is what we today think of as central and eastern Brazil, southern Bolivia, far northern Chile and northern Paraguay. It consists of the states Luz, Salvatore and Saint Francis. In Luz is the massive University of Saints Peter and Paul, which occupies what were once the cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, and everything in-between.
This is most of what we consider Chile today, almost all of Argentina and southern Paraguay. The states of this province are Argentina, Santiago and Magus. The main headquarters of the LPA’s Office Templar is located in the state of Magus.
What today would be Uruguay, a sliver of northeastern Argentina, a tiny portion of southern Paraguay and southeastern Brazil. There are no states in this province. This province is home to the Saint Luke Medical Campus, the second-largest hospital and medical research institution in the solar system.
This is what we consider South Africa today, plus southern Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and far southern Mozambique. Capetown is the capital of this province, as well as being home of one of the three largest Sistercamps of the Dry Sisters.
What is today Angola, the southern portion of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and most of Zambia.
What is today northeastern Zambia, all of Zimbabwe and Mozambique, far southern Tanzania and the island of Madagascar. In the city of Davidia on Madagascar is the Tower of the Red Pope and the main headquarters of the Office Templar for the LA Region. Davidia is, of course, also capital of the LA Region.
Nations that either willingly or by force are allied with and occupied by the Catholic Union, but not officially part of the Union, are considered protectorate states. Currently, all protectorate states are either in the Middle East (a small nation called Persia which occupies part of what is today Iran, and a city-state called Babylon that is located in a portion of what is today Iraq), in eastern Europa (the tiny breakaway nations of Gregoryi, Ursus and Voldov), in Africa (Uhuru, in the Free African Region) or part of The Asian Republics (Mongolia, Sri Lanka and Pyamni). All of them fall under the jurisdiction of the LA Region.