Are Vatican officials involved in the Ashley Madison leak? Nope.

.- Early this week, a leak of personal data from millions of users of Ashley Madison, a website designed to arrange extramarital affairs, wreaked havoc on and off the internet.

At least two suicides have been reported in conjunction with the hack, and a series of privacy lawsuits are in the works, not to mention the rocked or devastated marriages.

Shortly after the leak, several blogs also jumped on the fact that some of the e-mail addresses released in the hack were linked to the .va domain, the internet domain belonging to the Vatican (similar to .uk for United Kingdom domains or .nz for New Zealand domains).

At first glance, the claim seems questionable – why would top Church officials sworn to celibacy sign up for a website for married people, and no less one that promotes adultery?

It turns out, they want nothing to do with it.

None of the .va addresses in the leak check out as actually belonging to Vatican officials.

David Taylor of prooffreader.com went through all 222 addresses supposedly linked to the Vatican and found plausible explanations for each one. And, as an aside, Taylor wrote that he was “brought up Catholic, but I totally rebelled, so I don't have a vested interest in protecting the Vatican from scandal, quite the opposite. I just believe in accurate reporting.”

“…even a casual perusal of these latter addresses reveals that something isn't right. Does the Vatican have schools named after cities in Virginia or ISPs with the same names as those in Canada?” he wrote.

According to the prooffreader.com findings, almost every .va address used had a .va.us or a .va.gov equivalent, meaning that the addresses far more likely belonged to government officials in the state of Virginia who just forgot to add the final part of the e-mail address. Most of the names used before most of the .va e-mail addresses corresponded to cities in Virginia.

Ashley Madison does not confirm e-mail addresses, so typos and false e-mail addresses can slip through.

If the e-mail addresses did not have a Virginia government equivalent, it corresponded to a Canadian one (.ca.gov), but the user likely just slipped up and hit “v” instead of “c”. The two letters are right next to each other on a standard American keyboard. (Seriously. Look down at your hands.)

Only one address used vatican.va rather than simply .va, but Vatican officials use vatican.com e-mail addresses.

There were 55 e-mail addresses that Taylor said he could not connect to either Virginia or Canada, but that he said still didn’t seem to be in any way linked to the Vatican.

Several websites that enable searching through the leaked data also come with a disclaimer that because Ashley Madison does not verify e-mails, addresses with typos or fake e-mail addresses could be included.

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