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 surprisingly 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.”

Hacker philosophy is playful but committed, encourages creativity and sharing, and opposes models of control, competition and private property, Spadaro observed approvingly.

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