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Vatican Applies For Control of New Internet Extension

The Vatican may soon make it easier for all of us to recognize an authentic Catholic website by applying for control of a new Internet extension ".catholic" which will give them the ability to control who is permitted to use it.

The Catholic News Service (CNS)  is reporting that on June 13, the Church officially filed for control of the new domain name which is part of an unprecedented expansion of Internet extensions being implemented by the nonprofit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The corporation, which coordinates the assignment of Internet domain names and extension, said the Vatican applied for the domain name ".catholic" and its equivalent in other languages.

Msgr. Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, told CNS that the Vatican's desire to control the domain "is a recognition of how important the digital space is for the church." Doing so "will be a way to authenticate the Catholic presence online," he said.

Only institutions and communities that have canonical recognition can use the extension, he said, "so people online -- Catholics and non-Catholics -- will know a site is authentically Catholic." This list includes dioceses, parishes, religious orders and other canonically recognized communities, as well as Catholic institutions such as universities, schools and hospitals.

Individual bloggers or private Catholic individuals will not be able to use the extension.

The Church paid a $185,000 fee for each of their applications. Even though this is a lot of money, Msgr. Tighe said it was a good investment because 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."

Rob Beckstrom, president of ICANN, announced at a London news conference that no one has yet been granted any rights to the requested domain names and must first undergo a vetting process to be sure applicants are qualified to control them. Once done, it is unlikely that anyone owning a new domain will have anything online before the spring of 2013.

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