The hacking group Anonymous took down several Vatican websites on Wednesday, saying it was targeting the "corrupt" Catholic Church, a day after a high-profile bust of the group's alleged leaders.
"Anonymous decided today to besiege your site in response to the doctrine, to the liturgies, to the absurd and anachronistic concepts that your for-profit organisation spreads around the world," the hackers said in a statement.
"This attack is not against the Christian religion or the faithful around the world but against the corrupt Roman Apostolic Church," said the statement, posted on the Italian-language version of the Anonymous website.
Aside from taking down www.vatican.va, the hacking group also claimed responsibility for attacking several Vatican-related sites including that of its newspaper.
Anonymous tried and failed to attack the Vatican website last year.
Five alleged computer hackers in Britain, Ireland and the United States were charged on Tuesday in high-profile cyberattacks after a leader of the group became a FBI informant.
The charges against alleged members of Anonymous, Lulz Security and other international hacking groups were revealed in indictments unsealed by the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.
The indictments cover some of the most notorious hacking incidents of the past several years including those against Sony Pictures Entertainment, private intelligence firm Stratfor and computer security firm HBGary.
In their statement, Anonymous went on to accused the Catholic Church of several historical wrongdoings including killing opponents, burning texts and harbouring Nazi war criminals.
The group also blasted the institution for "allowing its representatives to harass children."
(View of St Peter's basilica at St Peter's square at the Vatican. The hacking group Anonymous took down several Vatican websites on Wednesday, saying it was targeting the "corrupt" Catholic Church, a day after a high-profile bust of the group's alleged leaders. AFP Photo/Andreas Solaro)