Business, Finance & Economics

Vatican plagiarizes straight from Wikipedia for cardinals' biographies


Cardinals attend John Paul II Beatification Ceremony in Vatican City, Vatican. The Vatican has been accused of lifting new cardinals' biographies straight from Wikipedia.


Franco Origlia

It seems not even the Vatican is above plagiarizing: The Holy See has lifted information straight from Wikipedia and used it in a press release, The Telegraph reported

The Vatican apparently sourced the biographies of its 22 newly appointed cardinals from their Wikipedia pages. In the letter, the Holy See stated rather superfluously that all the cardinals are Catholics, and used other odd, atypical language. 

The cut-and-paste effort was first noticed by Sandro Magister, an Italian blogger and journalist from the news magazine Espresso and an expert on the Vatican.

The press release about the new cardinals, which was sent to journalists, included a statement about Dutch archbishop Willem Jacobus Eijk that said that he had "a strong leaning towards conservatism, particularly in regards to abortion and homosexuality," which was a direct quote from the archbishop's Italian Wikipedia page, according to The Telegraph.  

The new appointees include seven Italians, as well as bishops from Brazil, Hong Kong, the United States and India, The Telegraph reported. They will be elected at a formal ceremony next month. 

Father Federico Lombardi, The Vatican's spokesman, said that the cardinals' bios were labeled as "unofficial." He said that the decision to use Wikipedia was made because the press office was rushed and had not been given the list of appointees in advance, according to The Telegraph. 

As The Register writes, 

Some have professed shock that an organization with arguably the greatest manuscript and book collections on the planet should turn to the interwebs for background information on its top execs. [...] Last year a conference of bloggers hosted by the Vatican granted itself an indulgence on the question of copyright, declaring that the notion of copyright was old hat, and it was OK to lift content from old media.

The Vatican's ancient library houses over 180,000 manuscripts and 1.6 million books, and it describes its Secret Archive as "one of the most important research centers in the world," the Guardian pointed out

Most of the 22 new cardinals are under the age of 80, which means they can vote for the next Pope when the 84-year-old Benedict dies. Cardinals aged over 80 are not allowed to vote in the conclave.

More from GlobalPost: Benetton pulls "manipulative" poster of Pope kissing imam (VIDEO)