Vatican could shut down website due to name use; Web owner says it's 'political persecution'

A Spanish website could find itself locked in a legal battle with the Vatican over the use of the latter's name, but InfoVaticana believes there are other reasons why it is being targeted in a potential lawsuit.

(REUTERS/Paul Hanna)The Vatican might shutter a Spanish website because of a technicality.

The office of Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin reportedly sent InfoVaticana a demand letter to turn over the website's web domain. In a blog post, the site mentioned that the said letter claimed the Vatican had "exclusive property rights over the name of the physical center of the Catholic world," thus indicating that InfoVaticana did not have the right to use its name.

However, Gabriel Ariza Rossy, the owner of InfoVaticana, told Church Militant that the request was actually a form of "political prosecution" in light of the fact that the website writes and exposes corruption in the Spanish Episcopal Conference. He further explained that there were other sites using the Vatican's name but had no affiliations to the Vatican itself and had never received similar requests from Parolin's office.

Rossy said that their legal woes started after Cardinal Ricardo Blázquez filed a complaint with the Apostolic Nuncio last year with regard to InfoVaticana. Parolin's office later on sought legal advice from law firm Baker & MacKenzie, which sent the demand letter.

The website operator believed that the Spanish bishops did not want InfoVaticana poking into and questioning their activities. Rossy also stated that he had tried to compromise with the office of the Secretary of State to make it clear that his online information site was not affiliated with the Vatican but he was declined. Instead, the Vatican gave him six months to comply with its demand with the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office.

The blog site Vox Cantoris wrote that this was not the first time the Vatican had allegedly assaulted someone's freedom of speech, thought and expression. It said that the Vatican had also sued the blog "Protect the Pope" that Deacon Nick Donnelly ran. Vox Cantoris also received threats of a potential lawsuit when the story of a Basilian priest and a papal adviser was published.