The Vatican said on Wednesday an unknown buyer had snapped up the internet address vatican.xxx, a domain combining its name with an extension reserved for pornographic content.
"This domain is not available because it has been acquired by someone else, but not the Vatican," Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said on Vatican radio.
It was not clear from his statement if the Vatican had tried to acquire the domain in order to prevent future misuse and had been beaten to the punch by the unknown buyer.
Lombardi denied Italian media reports that the Vatican had, like many other organizations including companies, universities and museums, registered the xxx domain to prevent its misuse.
The xxx domains are being launched this month for pornographic content and many organizations have preemptively acquired them so others cannot.