An affiliate of the loose-knit hacker group Anonymous has claimed it attacked and took down the Vatican’s website on March 7.
The website www.vatican.va went down at about 3 p.m. Rome time.
The Vatican’s internet office and its spokesman have not yet released a statement about the alleged hacker attack.
An entry on the blog of Anonymous Italy said the attack was in response to the “doctrines, liturgies and the absurd and anachronistic precepts” that the Church spreads worldwide. It cited the sexual abuse of children, various historical and alleged misdeeds, and Church “interference” in Italian daily life and public policy as motives for the digital assault.
The hackers also objected to the Catholic stance against abortion and contraceptives.
They claimed the attack was not on the Christian religion or the Christian faithful but targeted the “corrupt Roman Apostolic Church.”
In August 2011, a faction of Anonymous unsuccessfully tried to attack the website of World Youth Day during the international Catholic event.
That campaign tried to recruit others to take part in the attack using YouTube videos, Twitter, and Facebook. It similarly cited clergy sex abuse as a motive, but also attacked Catholic practices like confession to priests.