Even the Vatican makes use of Wikipidea

By Hans Olav Arnesen

Wikipedia has proven to be an extremely useful asset for a lot of people in a lot of different professions. Even though, or perhaps because, the articles are not peer-reviewed, they are just so numerous that they make Wikipedia, arguably, the most practical online encyclopaedia. Chances are that the article you are looking for is on Wikipedia, even if it´s missing from one of your more respected encyclopaedias.

Thats why even academics, who often choose not to write articles on Wikipedia, sometimes use the online resource themselves to get a quick overview on a new topic. They probably wouldn´t admit it though. The same most likely goes for theologians, of course, but you would not expect the Vatican to make use of Wikipedia to find information about its own cardinals. Yet, according to The Guardian, thats excactly what they did when they sent potted biographies to newspapers about 22 newly appointed cardinals.

The biographies were copied and pasted from Wikipedia without attribution. One of the things that gave its origins away was that the cardinals were all described as being Catholic. Sort of goes without saying you would think. Eventually the Vatican had to admit to using the Wikipedia to compile information about their own cardinals. The Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said it was caused by haste, and that the biographies were all labeled: «unofficial».

Maybe the Vaticans image as a center for scholarship and knowledge has been somewhat tarnished by this revelation, but on the other hand this shows that the Vatican has taken the step into the 21st century and is making use of the same online resources as the rest of us.

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