Even the Vatican uses Wikipedia
Vatican uses Wikipedia to compile cardinals' biographies
Spokesman says website's use was temporary measure driven by haste, and that official biographies being compiled

Its ancient library holds more than 180,000 manuscripts and 1.6m books, and it describes its Secret Archive, which packs priceless documents on to 85km of shelving, as "one of the most important research centres in the world".

The Vatican's reputation as a font of knowledge was further boosted when Joseph Ratzinger, a former academic and prolific writer, was elected as Pope.

That is why eyebrows were raised when the Vatican resorted to Wikipedia when it released potted biographies of 22 new cardinals who were appointed on 6 January.

The biographies, sent to journalists, were cut and pasted from Wikipedia's Italian language site without attribution, but questions were asked when many of the archbishops in line for promotion were described as Catholic – a statement recalling the frequently asked question: "Is the Pope a Catholic?"

In a tone that does not exactly match the Vatican's style, Willem Jacobus Eijk, the archbishop of Utrecht, is described as having a "strong tendency to conservatism, specially regarding abortion and homosexuality, which has made him one of the most talked about religious men in the country".

The Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi pointed out that the bios were carefully labelled as "unofficial" and said the decision to use Wikipedia was a temporary measure driven by haste. "Since then we have been putting up official bios on our site," he said.

However, the use of Wikipedia seems in line with Benedict's approval of the internet. After he was criticised in 2009 for being in the dark over Bishop Richard Williamson's claim that the Nazis did not use gas chambers, he wrote: "In future at the Holy See, we must pay more attention to that source of news."


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