The Vatican has been caught plundering Wikipedia for background on 22 new cardinals announced by the Pope.
The Telegraph reports on the ‘cut and paste job’.
The Vatican put out a press release following Benedict XVI’s announcement of the new ‘princes of the Church’, but much of it appeared to have been lifted word for word from Wikipedia.
One giveaway was that Vatican officials did not even bother to amend the online entries, solemnly informing that the new appointees were all Catholics – a somewhat redundant detail given the context.
The hasty cut-and-paste job was spotted by a sharp-eyed blogger, Sandro Magister, a journalist from the news magazine Espresso and an expert on the Vatican.
Typical of the profiles sent to journalists was one about Willem Jacobus Eijk, a Dutch archbishop, who was described in the Vatican briefing notes as “distinguishing himself by having greatly improved the situation of the dioceses of Groningen, which had experienced turbulent times.” The sentence was taken directly from the Wikipedia entry in Italian on the archbishop, as was the observation that he had “a strong leaning towards conservatism, particularly in regards to abortion and homosexuality”.
Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said his staff had simply been trying to help correspondents when they released details on the cardinals following the Pope’s announcement last Friday.
He said his staff were in a hurry because they had not been told the list of appointees in advance.
Of the 22 new cardinals, 18 are under the age of 80, meaning that they will be eligible to vote for the next Pope, once the 84-year-old Benedict passes away.
Cardinals aged over 80 are not permitted to cast a vote in the conclave.
The new appointees included seven Italians, as well as bishops from Brazil, Hong Kong, the United States and India. They will be formally elected at a ceremony next month.
The lesson: Always properly acknowledge your sources.