Turkish hackers have brought down the official Vatican City website, following Pope Francis’ statement in which he referred to mass killings of Armenians by Turks as ‘genocide’.
According to reports, the website www.vatican.va was first taken offline on Monday evening with a Turkish hacker, named @THTHerakles, announcing that he would continue to target the website should an official apology not be issued from the Vatican City.
The hacker said that the Pope’s comments were “unacceptable” for a respected religious figurehead. “Taking sides and calling what happened with the Armenians genocide is not true […] We want Pope [Francis] to apologise for his words or we will make sure the website remains offline,” he added.
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The site was restored within a number of hours, however according to the apparent perpetrator the main server remained offline.
Turkish hacking groups are not the only community looking to target the Vatican over the Pope’s recent comments. The Turkish government have expressed their upset, with foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu arguing that the statement was “out of touch with both historical facts and legal basis.”
“Religious offices are not places through which hatred and animosity are fuelled by unfounded allegations,” he added.
Hacking group Anonymous also claimed to take down the Vatican website three years ago in protest against the ‘church’s crimes’, namely controversial Catholic doctrines and the recently uncovered sexual abuse of children by priests. During the same year, hackers shut down the website of World Youth Day, an international Catholic youth festival which took place in Madrid, Spain. The website was intermittently available on the festival’s first day as Pope Benedict XVI arrived to take part in the event.
At the time of publishing this article, the official Vatican City website was not available.