03/07/2012 02:48 pm ET Updated Mar 07, 2012

Anonymous Hacks Vatican Website In Cyber Attack On Holy See, Sources Say

A group of Italian hackers who claim to be members of the loose-knit international gang of cyber criminals known as "Anonymous" took down the Vatican's website for a number of hours Wednesday, the Chicago Tribune reports.

A statement posted on a website claiming to be the official homepage of the Italian branch of Anonymous said the takedown was orchestrated in protest of a number of alleged abuses by the Catholic Church including past execution of heretics, the selling of indulgences, and the recent child abuse scandals involving priests.

"Today, Anonymous has decided to put your site under siege in response to your doctrine, liturgy and the absurd and anachronistic rules that your profit-making organisation spreads around the world," the hackers wrote in the statement, according to Reuters. "This attack is not against the Christian religion or the faithful around the world but against the corrupt Roman Apostolic Church."

Just yesterday, five hackers in Britain, Ireland and the United States believed to members of the group LulzSec were charged in a series of cyber attacks after one member of the group turned out to be an FBI informant, according to the Agence France-Presse.

The crackdown followed a long line of hacking incidents attributed to Anonymous including attacks on Sony Pictures Entertainment, the government website of several African nations and Nintendo.