In a profoundly intelligent move, the Vatican has put in an application for the domain extension .catholic, which would be added to the multitude of extensions out there (.com, .org, .net, etc). The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, in international governing body for this area of internet management, confirmed that the Vatican submitted an application for the domain extension.
Here is more from the Catholic News Service:
Msgr. Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, told Catholic News Service that the Vatican’s application to control the top-level domain .catholic “is a recognition of how important the digital space is for the church.”
Controlling the top-level domain “will be a way to authenticate the Catholic presence online,” Msgr. Tighe said. The Vatican plans to allow “institutions and communities that have canonical recognition” to use the extension, “so people online — Catholics and non-Catholics — will know a site is authentically Catholic.”
The Vatican does not plan to allow individual bloggers or private Catholics to use “.catholic,” Msgr. Tighe said. Use of the domain would be limited to those with a formal canonical recognition: dioceses, parishes and other territorial church jurisdictions; religious orders and other canonically recognized communities; and Catholic institutions such as universities, schools and hospitals.
The Vatican filed four separate applications for new domain names, seeking to control “.catholic” and its equivalent in other languages using Latin letters, as well as the equivalent of the word “Catholic” in the Cyrillic, Arabic and Chinese alphabets.
The fee for each application was $185,000, which Msgr. Tighe said “is a lot of money, but if you think of the money you have to spend to maintain a church structure,” and then consider how important the structure of the Catholic presence on the Internet is, it was a good investment.
Controlling the domain name will promote “a more cohesive and organized presence” of the church online, “so the recognized structure of the church can be mirrored in the digital space.”
This is a very intelligent move for the Vatican. One of the growing problems within the Church, which is manifesting itself fairly heavily online, is dissenting organizations operating with the veneer of approval by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. Most people do not understand how beneficial the structure of the Catholic Church is to the faithful. Knowing that an organization or “juridic person,” as it is referred in canon law, such as parishes and dioceses, is operating under the approval of the shepherds of the Catholic Church is important. This new extension, assuming it gets approved, will be a powerful tool for knowing who is legitimate and who might not be. As you read above, you won’t be finding New Media Catholic with a .catholic extension any time soon. But that’s ok.