Do you know what a Concordat is?

Sometimes you think nothing can surprise you anymore – but I am quite happy to say that I am still shockable, particularly when it comes to sheer effrontery of the Vatican.

I recently came across the website www.concordatwatch.eu – read it, it's quite the eye-opener.

I am, and have long been, heavily involved in secular campaigning but I didn't know any of this, and I suspect many others don't either; so out of interest - do you know what a concordat is?

Just in case you don't. Here is a run-down.

A concordat is a contract between the Vatican (conveniently operating as a nation-state as opposed to a church on these occasions) and a compliant country or state. I say country or state because it is important to understand that isn't a contracting government that is bound, but the country (or state) itself, and therefore all subsequent governments.

It is a contract that can only end by mutual consent, meaning only when the Vatican decides it; and when you consider the privilege concordats provide for the church, that is highly unlikely to happen. By virtue of its double role as both a church and a state, concordats are unique to the Vatican and have the status of international treaties.