The Vatican web site is offline, presumably due to a surge of web users seeking information about the conclave to elect the next Pope, which began today at the Sistine Chapel. The conclave, a secret ceremony in which 115 Cardinals select the next leader of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics, was preceded by a special Mass at which a leading Vatican insider called on the electors to "defend traditional doctrine." News coverage of the remarks by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger may be a factor in the traffic slowing the Vatican site.
A dynamically updating chart of the availability of vatican.va is available here.
The Vatican site experienced extended outages earlier this month as Internet users around the world sought information about the failing health of Pope John Paul II. After the initial series of outages, The Vatican made changes to its hosting infrastructure, switching from a Hewlett Packard Tru64 Unix operating system to Sun's Solaris 9. The site performed better in the wake of the switch, and was widely available during a webcast of the Pope's funeral, but is struggling today.