By Amber Lyon, Eric Marrapodi and Hada Messia, CNN
Rome (CNN) - Hackers are claiming to have shut down the website for the Catholic Church Wednesday.
Vatican.va, the official website of the Holy See, was not operational Wednesday afternoon.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi confirmed to CNN the site was hacked, but said it would be "fully operational" again shortly.
Anonymous, a loosely-knit international hacking group, claimed responsibility for the church website shutdown.
"Anonymous has now decided to lay siege to your site in response to the doctrines, liturgies and the precepts, absurd and anachronistic, that your organization, (which) is for profit, propagates and spreads worldwide," a statement in Italian on the blog "ufficiale di Anonymous Italia" read.
"This is NOT intended to attack the Christian religion or against the faithful around the world, but to the corrupt Roman Apostolic Church and all its emanations," the statement added.
A longtime follower of Anonymous who is in touch with the hackers involved and who has knowledge of the plan told CNN that hackers within Anonymous Italy and AntiSec were responsible for shutdown of the church website. AntiSec Anons describe themselves as the "special forces" of the collective.
The source confirmed the statement on the Italian hacker's website.
"It's not a personal attack on Christians, just on the Vatican itself," said the source, who asked to remain anonymous to protect their identity from the group.
Anonymous Italy also cited the Catholic Church's teachings on birth control and abortion and the way it handled widespread sexual abuse scandals as other reasons for the hacking.
The U.S. arm of the Anonymous hacking group has targeted government agencies and corporations before but not religious organizations. The group claimed responsibility for hacking into an FBI phone call with their Irish counterparts and cyberstrikes between December 2010 and June 2011 that included denial of service attacks against the websites of Visa, MasterCard and PayPal.
A denial of service (DoS) attack typically involves the use of a large number of computers to bombard websites with phony requests for information, causing the site to temporarily shut down.
On Tuesday, top members of the computer hacker group and its offshoots were arrested and charged after a wide-ranging investigation which was assisted by a group leader working as a secret government informant. The FBI informant, "Sabu," was a part of the elite AntiSec hackers.
CNN's Susan Candiotti contributed to this report.
Read the original article at CNN Belief Blog 2012-03-08 »