Access to the Vatican website, www.vatican.va, was blocked twice in the space of 24 hours this week following Pope Francis’s comments Sunday regarding the Armenian genocide.
The Vatican website was hacked during the night between Monday and Tuesday, after Pope Francis described the Turkish massacre of 1.5 million Armenians a century ago as “the first genocide of the twentieth century.”
A London-based group that calls itself THTHerakles has taken credit for the cyber attack.
The Vatican website was offline for several hours following the attack, until the problem was solved Tuesday morning. But on Wednesday afternoon, it was offline again.
According to the specialist publication “Techworm,” the attack was an unofficial retaliation to the words of the Pope.
A tweet written in Turkish on the group’s Twitter feed read, “Dear Pope you should have defended your website as much as you defended the Armenians.”
The hacker stated that the Pope’s comments were “unacceptable” for a respected religious leader. “Taking sides and calling what happened with the Armenians genocide is not true. … We want Pope [Francis] to apologize for his words or we will make sure the website remains offline,” he said.
The Pope’s comments Sunday produced immediate diplomatic fallout between the Vatican and Ankara, with the Turkish government recalling its ambassador to the Holy See. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the Pope was fueling “hatred and animosity” by spreading “unfounded allegations.”
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.