Vatican Web Site a Favorite — for Hackers Too

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 26, 2003 ( The Vatican’s official Web page at, inaugurated at Christmas in 1995, today is one of the most visited in the world.

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The page, started at the initiative of Vatican press office director Joaquín Navarro-Valls, receives 50 million hits a month, from 150 countries.

It also draws its share of attacks by hackers — about 30 a week.

«Fortunately, we have always defended ourselves very well,» said Bishop Claudio Maria Celli, secretary of the administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See, during a press conference Tuesday at the presentation of the Web page’s new Vatican Museums section.

«In fact, not all hackers are enemies,» the bishop said. He recalled that on one occasion the Internet defense services intercepted a Franciscan who tried a whole night, without success, to break into the papal Web site. «Obviously, he couldn’t sleep,» Bishop Celli joked.

«We often have to defend ourselves also from U.S. engineering students, who want to win a bet among themselves,» he added.

The Vatican site contends with more than 10,000 e-mail viruses a month. The site receives 20,000 e-mails per month. On May 18, the Pope’s birthday, 23,000 electronic congratulations arrived.

«And we are used to printing and answering each one,» Bishop Celli said.

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