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The Vatican Lauds Hackers 375

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the papal-soldering-gun dept.
angry tapir writes "Internet hackers have acquired a dubious reputation for piracy, sabotage and the spilling of sensitive secrets, but an authoritative Vatican publication appears to rehabilitate them and traces parallels between hacker philosophy and the teachings of Christianity. The charitable view of hackers was expressed by the Jesuit priest Father Antonio Spadaro in an article for the fortnightly magazine Civilta Cattolica, the text of which is vetted by the Vatican Secretariat of State prior to publication. Hackers should not be confused with crackers, Spadaro wrote, citing a definition penned by technology writer Eric S. Raymond: "Hackers build things, crackers break them.""
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The Vatican Lauds Hackers

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 06, 2011 @10:27AM (#35733566)

    Hackers are more like heretics. Trying to uncover the hidden truths. The church has a long history of trying to hide the truth.

    • by AvitarX (172628) <me.brandywinehundred@org> on Wednesday April 06, 2011 @10:33AM (#35733654) Journal

      FTFA:

      For all the common ground between Christians and hackers over the concepts of sharing, creativity and idealism, Spadaro acknowledged there were problems of compatibility between the Catholic Church's hierarchical organization and its focus on a "revealed truth" and the hackers' rejection of authority and of any hierarchy of knowledge.

      • Yeah, but you have to love the terminology: "Internet hackers". "Your honor, I swear -- I never hacked the internet!"
        • by ArcherB (796902)

          Yeah, but you have to love the terminology: "Internet hackers". "Your honor, I swear -- I never hacked the internet!"

          I think the term "Internet hackers" is like "road warriors". When you hear road warrior, you don't think of a warrior attacking the street. You think of a warrior ON the road, just like Internet hackers are hackers that use the Internet.

          Street fighter would be another example. Although, come to think of it, "crime fighter" would back up your point.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Em Adespoton (792954)

        It should be noted that Jesus's rejection of authority and of any hierarchy of knowledge lines up quite nicely with the Hacker manifesto, with only minor differences (such as "there are many ways to do things, but only one which will get you where you want to go"). Christ was upset with the Pharisees because they didn't write clean (legal/social/religious) code. Despite what some in the Catholic church believe, Jesus did not assign all authority (and associated responsibility) in heaven and on earth solel

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by grub (11606)
      Hackers are the altar boys. Crackers are the altar boys who sue.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by O('_')O_Bush (1162487)
      The Church is a political institution, mostly unrelated with the teachings of Christianity. What the Church does has little influence on the religion or its values. It has influence on the culture of the people that it tries to influence, but not the religion itself. After all, it only represents one branch of hundreds, most of which disagree with what it (the Church) does.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by danguyf (631016)
        It's not "one branch", it's the trunk. Those "branches" didn't exist for the first millennium and a half of its existence; its existence and authority pre-date the Bible, the component parts of which it authored, preserved, evaluated, and the canon of which it certified. Trying to claim that the Church is a political institution that tries to influence a culture, and not the guiding force throughout time in exploring, refining, and teaching the religion itself is laughable.
        • by Chibi Merrow (226057) <`mrmerrow' `at' `monkeyinfinity.net'> on Wednesday April 06, 2011 @11:21AM (#35734326) Homepage Journal

          It's not "one branch", it's the trunk.

          The Copts would disagree with you. As would several ethnic Christian groups in the far-East that were founded by Apostles other than Peter. Catholicism is as much a branch as they are.

          • by danguyf (631016)
            An excellent point! I was unclear; I include all four of Christendom's Apostolic Sees when I say "the Church", not just Latin Rite Catholicism. The church in Alexandria brought the world Clement, Didymus, Origen, monasticism, lead the Council of Nicaea, and was basically instrumental in the early Church. I do not want to seem to diminish or dismiss it! I am just bugged when Protestants, or those influenced by the scandal of Protestantism, relegate the Apostolic Sees to being "just branches" on par with
            • "The scandal of Protestantism"? Wow, I guess you don't even want to think about the soulless hackers (see, on topic oh mod-god!) who created "the scandal of secular humanistic scientific atheism" in this discussion. Also, you are aware that histories of Christianity now exist that aren't written by Catholics, right? Or even Christians? Just checking...

              rgb
          • "Founded by Peter", of course, being a part of the myth they created in the third century, right? Because there isn't the slightest shred of contemporary evidence that Peter had anything to do with founding the Church in Rome in the first century. They just needed an Apostle because all of the competing cities had an Apostle, and Peter got elected.

            rgb
          • Does it really matter? Modern religion is a bunch of BS arranged to control the population in line with the morals of those who run it.

    • by jythie (914043)
      That was my basic thought..... As the AvitarX points out this is kinda covered in the piece,.. but to describe this as 'a problem' is kinda like saying 'well, the sun would make a great vacation spot, but we acknowledge the problem of all that heat'. It is a pretty overriding 'problem'.
    • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@gmail. c o m> on Wednesday April 06, 2011 @10:51AM (#35733936) Journal

      Plus hackers use the Internet, which encourages satanism!

    • [citation needed]

    • by characterZer0 (138196) on Wednesday April 06, 2011 @11:05AM (#35734098)

      The church has a long history of trying to hide the truth.

      The Catholic Church as a religious organization has a long history of trying to find and understand the truth, theologically. The Catholic Church as a political organization, as with any political organization, has a long history of trying to hide the truth of the politics of the church. In these writings, the comparison is made to the former, not the latter.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Tom (822)

        The Catholic Church as a religious organization has a long history of trying to find and understand the truth, theologically.

        Which suffers from the presupposition that something like a theological truth exists in the first place. If it is all a made-up pile of crap, all that "truth-seeking" is simply mental masturbation.

        • by characterZer0 (138196) on Wednesday April 06, 2011 @11:29AM (#35734416)

          People spend a lot of time thinking about the original meaning of other people's made-up piles of crap. You can get advanced degrees in art history and literature.

        • is simply mental masturbation.

          At first I thought you were just trolling, but then I realized: you're a three-digit Slashdot user, so I expect you're a leading expert on "mental masturbation."

        • Oh, now you're going to go and insist on that pesky old thing called "evidence", aren't you? And here I just went over a perfectly lovely piece of gibberish advanced as YAOAFG (yet another ontological argument for god) on a philosophy website that was just chock full of gems of logic such as the assertion that "God exists in possible worlds". OMFG.

          rgb
      • by digitig (1056110) on Wednesday April 06, 2011 @11:25AM (#35734366)

        The church has a long history of trying to hide the truth.

        The Catholic Church as a religious organization has a long history of trying to find and understand the truth, theologically.

        And scientifically, because they believe God to be revealed in creation. Even in the context of the Galileo trial the Roman Catholic Church said that if the science showed Galileo to be right then they would have to change their doctrines. Yes, there are metaphysical underlying what they do, but there are metaphysical assumptions underlying science too -- the positivists never succeeded in eliminating them, and Popper argued that it was impossible to do so.

        • Are you referring to this:

          http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1615bellarmine-letter.html [fordham.edu]

          That isn't exactly saying that if he is right they would have to change their doctrine, it's more like saying "We're right no matter what, so even if you're right and we're wrong, we're still right." In fact, Galileo's greatest contribution to the church is that, by showing the Book of Genesis to be systematically false (and hence by implication casting doubt on the entire "infallible" Bible, written by the holy fa
      • The Catholic Church has NEVER been concerned with truth in any way, shape, or form. They have, without fail, when confronted with a conflict between church dogma and reality, fought reality kicking and screaming until they were FORCED to accept the truth. Case in point, they didn't get around to forgiving Galileo until the late 20th Century. They have the nerve to call themselves "progressive" for accepting the truth of the Theory of Evolution -- more than 100 years later. Today, there is overwhelming proof
    • by Svartalf (2997)

      Don't confuse the faith with the religion (which're differing things...). Every "church" has that sort of long history (and in some cases a worse history...) of trying to hide the truth.

    • by ableal (1502763)
      "The truth will set you free", and all the historical universities the Church founded, would not convince you otherwise, I suppose. Oh, well. Can't have mere facts shaking beliefs. Carry on.
    • Mod up 1. Damn skippy.

      Iconoclasts too. No respect for authority. Enlightened. Geekish.

      Galileo was a hacker. Newton was a hacker. David Hume was a hacker. They just hacked the code of the Universe, the code of epistemology. The church hated that.

      rgb
  • Apocalypse (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Talderas (1212466) on Wednesday April 06, 2011 @10:28AM (#35733580)

    So the Vatican gets the difference between hacker and cracker before the general populace...

    We have entered the beginning of the end.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 06, 2011 @10:30AM (#35733612)

      I thought "cracker" just meant "white person."

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Do you really believe for a second that the Vatican doesn't understand what it's doing? I mean, besides the whole child-rape thing, that's failure of sphincter control.

      The Catholic church has been a vehicle for a variety of political ends throughout history. We know of many ways in which this is true; with the Church's reputation for secrecy it may be assumed that it is true in ways which are not common knowledge as well.

      The Vatican has always been one of the organizations that understands what it is doing;

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Almost. a crackers doesn't 'break things'.

      so you can hold off on the announcement of any Ahackalypse.

      heh.

    • I'm amazed. Truly amazed. For a mainstream organization to define hacking and cracking in nice, black and white terms is somehow very satisfying.

      It's been what, 2000 years or so, and they've finally done something okay. I honestly applaud their common sense on this.

      • by TheSpoom (715771)

        Yeah, me too. Honestly, the Vatican would have been the last place I'd have guessed to get it right.

      • The Jesuits in particular have a long history of intellectual research, so it's not surprising that one or more of them may *get* the distinction between hacking and cracking.

      • Vatican is ridiculous in many ways (standing by BS mythologies not even being the worst), but they (well, their direct subordinates mostly) ultimately cherished and immensely contributed to progress - even if with some notable hiccups now and then... The myth about Dark Ages which "stole" from us a millennium of progress is just that, a myth (created by next epoch); at the least they also brought new types of societies (towards ours) and relative stabilization.

        Copernicus was also a Catholic priest. Georg
    • by gad_zuki! (70830)

      Except they don't understand it at all.

      Hacking culture is incredibly anti-authoritarian. That's not going to work in Xtianity which is nothing but an appeal to an authority (authors of the bible, jesus, etc).

      Hacking is about solving problems in a quick and dirty manner. Its the "bazaar" of open ideas and religion is, you guessed it, the "cathedral" of top down closed ideas controlled by an elite and followed by an credulous public.

      On the plus side, I see the Vatican's PR people are doing a good job. Front p

      • by SharpFang (651121)

        Interestingly, "not quite". It is doubtful the real, conservative institution of church would ever agree with it, but the Church as it should be - by enlightened, ethical and wise people (yes, there are few in there, if not all that many), does agree with it.

        The church (as it should be) has the ultimate priority of some moral goals. Commonwealth. Cooperation. Peace. Wisdom. These pretty much agree with ultimate goals of hackers.
        It also has some means to achieve these goals. Authority. Blind faith. Rituals t

        • by digitig (1056110)

          It also has some means to achieve these goals. Authority. Blind faith. Rituals that appeal to lesser minds. Rigid structure and deep traditionalism. These methods are completely in conflict with all Hackers represent by themselves.

          Really? Try asking a group of hackers about the correct placement of braces in C code.

      • by digitig (1056110)

        Except they don't understand it at all.

        Hacking culture is incredibly anti-authoritarian. That's not going to work in Xtianity which is nothing but an appeal to an authority (authors of the bible, jesus, etc).

        True of some branches of Christianity, certainly not all. It's probably fair to say that the ones that go in for authority are more organised so you're more likely to know about them, though. But there are plenty of Christians who challenge the authority of the Bible, the Church and traditional understanding of Jesus.

        • by sznupi (719324)
          Catholicism itself is enough to talk about majority of Christians. Throw in Eastern Orthodox plus very large part of the rest... and those which you mention are a noise.
      • On the plus side, I see the Vatican's PR people are doing a good job. Front page slashdot? Nice. Gotta fill them pews.

        Yeah, they should see a nice uptick of 0 this week.

      • Except they don't understand it at all.

        Hacking culture is incredibly anti-authoritarian. That's not going to work in Xtianity which is nothing but an appeal to an authority (authors of the bible, jesus, etc).

        Hacking is about solving problems in a quick and dirty manner. Its the "bazaar" of open ideas and religion is, you guessed it, the "cathedral" of top down closed ideas controlled by an elite and followed by an credulous public.

        On the plus side, I see the Vatican's PR people are doing a good job. Front page slashdot? Nice. Gotta fill them pews.

        You could argue that hackers have got a lot in common with religious orders. Hackers have an established idea of how things should be and follow those ideals often with religious zeal. They hang around in small groups of like-minded people doing works that promote the way they see the world. The different groups often have similar, but not the same, ideals and go about promoting them in very different ways.

      • by sznupi (719324)

        religion is, you guessed it, the "cathedral" of top down closed ideas

        Well, not really. Sure, many might claim that, their followers convinced in that... but there are crazy amounts of syncretism around.

        When applying some rigor, it's not very clear if local flavors of Christianity are closer to Christianity from X century [1] or to pagan practices from the same time (in either case, vast majority of present "Christians" would be branded - and treated - as very strong heretics by "Christians" living just few short centuries ago)

        1. The time of "National Baptism" myth fro

  • by PPH (736903) on Wednesday April 06, 2011 @10:29AM (#35733600)

    ... Jesus Christ hacked Christianity out of Judaism.

    And Martin Luther wrote the open source version.

    • Where does that leave Steve Ballmer? Burning in a lake of fire?
      • And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

        USURERS, USURERS, USURERS! *throws chairs, flips tables*

    • by digsbo (1292334)
      This is funny, but at the same time you have to recognize it's a Jesuit writing it. Jesuits are very much the intellectual rebels of the Catholic Church. Still, I'm pleased to see that the Catholic Church is not virulently anti-Internet, as are many of the conservative Protestant churches in the USA today. It is odd to observe that in many ways the Catholic Church is more progressive than [some] of the Protestants today.
      • by Rostin (691447)

        as are many of the conservative Protestant churches in the USA today.

        Such as? This is news to me as a conservative Protestant.

    • by chemicaldave (1776600) on Wednesday April 06, 2011 @10:53AM (#35733968)
      The Romans did not approve of his breaking of DRM so they crucified him. This tradition has endured even today.
      • by Tom (822)

        I know the christian tradition likes to label the romans as the evil ones, but truth is that in matters of religion (as in many other things), the Roman Empire was very progressive. In fact, if anything can be compared to an "Open Source Religion", then it's definitely the roman gods prior to the corruption to christianity. There you had a religion where you could bring your own god and have it accepted in the next release of the upstream branch. Try doing that with christianity.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by drb226 (1938360)

      And Martin Luther wrote the open source version.

      More like Tyndale [wikipedia.org] reverse engineered it from assembly (Latin) and open sourced it.

    • by PPH (736903)
      Martin Luther was an early day RMS? That explains a lot.
  • The Vatican tends to be a fairly conservative in its approach to technology (remember the fight over the confessional iPhone app a little while back?) and there is no doubt going to be much quibbling over hacktivism and other related activities for the next couple of hundred years. Who knows, maybe in 2300 we'll hear the future Pope say, "Oops, we were wrong when we called the iConfessional sacriligious. Also, we've begun the canonization process for a martyred Anonymous member today for his contributions
    • You give an iphone example?!? :(

      >The Vatican tends to be a fairly conservative in its approach to technology...
      How about, the fucking telescope :) They didn’t like the earth "not the centre of the universe" thing much, bless.
      • by digitig (1056110)

        >The Vatican tends to be a fairly conservative in its approach to technology... How about, the fucking telescope :) They didn’t like the earth "not the centre of the universe" thing much, bless.

        You don't know much about Medieval cosmology or the Galileo trial, do you?

    • by hedwards (940851)

      Except they weren't wrong about that. Granted the practice of confession is bullshit without any theological basis, but the app itself was even more so as it hasn't even the typical legitimacy of a traditional rite.

  • Interesting (Score:5, Informative)

    by bigsexyjoe (581721) on Wednesday April 06, 2011 @10:39AM (#35733734)
    Well the Catholic Church is a large organization and it is good to remember that there is a plurality of opinions in it, even among it's leaders. It isn't just a cabal of child molesters. The Catholic Church has in the past condemned both capitalism and communism in their extreme forms.
  • by Lose (1901896)
    FTFA

    "To create the biggest collaborative encyclopedia of Internet it is estimated that it took around 100 million hours of intellectual work, which is the equivalent of the time the citizens of the United States spend watching advertising on TV in a single weekend," Spadaro wrote.

    Dude, what?
    • I can't tell if his math is wrong by an order of magnitude or if he's saying that US citizens spend most of their weekend not working intellectually.

      I suppose both are true.
      • by mcmonkey (96054)

        What's wrong with the math?

        300 million (roughly) citizens of the USA. 100 million hours means an average of 1/3 an hour of TV per citizen.

        Do you really have trouble believing US citizens average 20 minutes of TV for a weekend?

        • I think the point was that we watch 100 million hours of TV advertising, as in commercials.

          But even then, 20 minutes of commercials would translate to like 90-120 minutes of TV time (not accounting for DVR's). That's a higher number, but still not hard to believe.

      • by hedwards (940851)

        The number is low, that would be roughly 20 minutes of TV per man woman and child that has American citizenship. Even when you account for the people who haven't got a TV or are unable to watch, the figure still seems low.

    • Re:Eh... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Alsee (515537) on Wednesday April 06, 2011 @10:55AM (#35733996) Homepage

      100 million hours of intellectual work, which is the equivalent of the time the citizens of the United States spend watching advertising on TV in a single weekend,"

      The math works out to about ten minutes per person per day. Considering that a typical one-hour show has about twenty minutes of commercials, the 100 million hour figure is probably about right.

      -

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This must mean the Vatican now prefers bazaars over cathedrals.

  • It's Victory in Iraq day today. The good guys -- Western civilization, the Coalition of the Willing, the United States, and the people of Iraq -- won this war. The bad guys -- Saddam Hussein's regime, al-Qaeda's jihadis, all their allies and enablers -- lost it. The entire world will be a better place because of this victory. And that is a proper thing to celebrate.

    In the U.S., blacks are 12% of the population but commit 50% of violent crimes; can anyone honestly think this is unconnected to the fact that they average 15 points of IQ lower than the general population? That stupid people are more violent is a fact independent of skin color.

    I think all teachers, day-care staff, and other adults in loco parentis for groups of children should be required to carry firearms on the job. Maintaining continued proficiency at rapid-reaction tactical shooting should be a condition of their continued employment. Their job is to protect children; if they are not physically, mentally, and morally competent to do that job, they donâ(TM)t belong in it.

    Iâ(TM)m what PUAs call a âoenaturalâ, a man who figured out much of game on his own and consequently cuts a wide sexual swathe when he cares to. Not quite the same game theyâ(TM)re playing, however. For one thing, Iâ(TM)ve never tried to pick up a woman in a bar in my entire life. College parties when I was a student, yes; SF conventions, neopagan festivals, SCA events, yes; bars, no.

    Also, and partly as consequence of where I hang out, it has been quite unusual for me to hit on women with IQs below about 120 â" and it may well be the case that Iâ(TM)ve never tried to interest a woman with below-average intelligence. (Er, which is not to say they donâ(TM)t notice me; even in middle age I get lots of IOIs from waitresses and other female service personnel. Any PUA would tell you this is a predictable and unremarkable consequence of being an alpha male.)

  • I had a nice clever put down for the vat and the pope, but fuck it. Why take the time to type it, when they won't see it, nor understand it if they did.

    The Vatican is like the mentally ill homeless dude who talks to himself and shouts crap all day.

    Some entertainment value, but nothing here, keep moving.

    • by Tom (822)

      Except that the homeless dude doesn't have millions of idiots who not only believe in, but are willing to interfere with your life because of the crap he shouts.

      And he probably doesn't have a few billions dedicated to inserting his crap into the laws and rules of society.

  • by jenningsthecat (1525947) on Wednesday April 06, 2011 @11:00AM (#35734044)

    From TFA: "Under fire are control, competition, property. It's a vision that is ... of a clear theological origin"

    I guess it never occurred to Spadaro that putting control, competition, and property "under fire" might have had something to do with the origins of theology, rather than the other way around.

  • So what is the difference between a religion and a cult, anyway?

    • Time and size. Just look at the Mormons. Someday in the future, Scientology could be an "accepted" cult/religion.
  • Tool of Satan or something? Yup. Here it is: http://slashdot.org/story/11/04/03/0252229/Vatican-Warns-That-Internet-Promotes-Satanism [slashdot.org]
    Gee, I wish they'd make up their mind. Maybe they're too busy trying to stay relevant. Or take your attention away from the whole child molestation thing.

    Which was an isolated incident!
    Well, a couple of them, actually.
    Maybe more than a couple, but *we* certainly didn't know anything about it.
    Well, maybe we'd heard a few rumors.
    But we didn't move priests around to
  • by ESR (3702) on Wednesday April 06, 2011 @01:01PM (#35735760) Homepage

    Since he quoted me, I have replied to the report on Spadaro's article at Imprimatur me! [ibiblio.org]

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