The Vatican has once again declared "blessed are the freetards" by justifying the appointment of 22 new cardinals with a raft of backup material culled from Wikipedia.
The Holy See's press department not only lifted biographical details on the latest crop of "princes of the Church" from the online fact bazaar for a press release, but didn't even bother to name the source, and simply reproduced them verbatim, The Daily Telegraph reports.
This included the unexpected information that at least some of the 22 – who will swell the very select constituency which gets to choose the next Pope after suitable divine intervention – are Roman Catholics, according to the Telegraph.
Some have professed shock that an organisation with arguably the greatest manuscript and book collections on the planet should turn to the interwebs for background information on its top execs.
But the media wing of the Holy Mother Church's reliance on the ramblings of the Wikipedians is not altogether surprising, given its reclassification of bloggers and freetards as the new meek, who should be inheriting the earth any time now.
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.
It was fitting then, that in this instance, it was a blogger, Espresso's Sandro Magister, who spotted that the biographies had been culled from the Italian language version of Wikipedia.
Pope Benedict's press supremo, Father Federico Lombardo, reportedly justified the wiki-scraping by saying the media department had been in a hurry. The press office had not been told the list of appointees in advance, and had simply been trying to pull together useful information for journalists as quickly as possible. Things are clearly moving faster at the Vatican these days - after all it took over 1,900 years for the Church to recognise that hardly anyone speaks Latin anymore.
Touchingly, it would seem that it hadn't occurred to them that the Vatican press corp wouldn't simply turn to Wikipedia to fill in the blanks themselves.
There is a free online Catholic Encyclopedia, but the text itself dates to 1917... which would usually be comparatively up to date for an institution that is 2,000 years old, but sadly useless given that most of the new cardinals are mere striplings, with 18 of them being under 80 years of age. ®