The official website of the Vatican went offline on Wednesday. The site was taken down after a suspected cyberattack, said a Vatican spokesperson. Vatican.va is the official online archive for papal encyclicals, among other things.
“Technical investigations are ongoing due to abnormal attempts to access the site,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni told Reuters without sharing any details or confirming a cyber-attack.
The Cyber Express attempted to visit the vatican.va website on Thursday at 9 am IST using multiple web browsers but could not access it. Ancillary websites such as press.vatican.va are accessible.
Russia and Vatican
The incident occurred when the Vatican is in the eye of politically charged situations. The alleged breach occurred the day after Russia vehemently protested Pope Francis’ most recent denunciation of the invasion of Ukraine.
“When I speak about Ukraine, I speak about the cruelty because I have much information about the cruelty of the troops that come in,” he told the America magazine earlier in November. “Certainly, the one who invades is the Russian state, this is very clear.”
In the interview with the monthly Christian magazine, Pope Francis singled out Chechen soldiers and other Russian ethnic minorities for their particular “cruelty” during the invasion of Ukraine.
Alexander Avdeev, the Russian ambassador to Vatican, met with a Vatican official on 28 November and expressed his “indignation” about the pope’s comments, reported the RIA Novosti agency.
Meanwhile, in China
Meanwhile, the Vatican is engaged in anther political tiff with China. On 26 November, the pope’s office formally accused Chinese authorities of breaking a bilateral agreement on bishop appointments by installing a bishop in a diocese that was not recognized by the Vatican.
According to a Vatican statement, the pope’s office expressed “surprise and regret” about the 24 November appointment of Bishop Giovanni Peng Weizhao of Yujiang (Jiangxi Province) as Auxiliary Bishop of Jiangxi, a diocese not recognized by the Holy See.
The Chinese foreign ministry repeatedly declined requests for comments from various news services.
According to Reuters, the Vatican and the Chinese government had an accord on clergy appointments, last renewed for a two-year period in October. The terms of the agreement were never disclosed.
The Archdiocese of Hong Kong had openly protested the increasing Chinese control over the region, with the Vatican’s moral support.