The Vatican has come out in first place in a long-awaited draw to expand
the Internet address system with new domain names that go beyond the
usual .com, .org or .net endings.
ICANN, the corporation that oversees
the Internet address system, announced this week the domain name
.catholic written in Chinese characters will be the first bid it
considers in a drive to expand and reorganise sites on the World Wide
The same extension in Arabic letters ranked 25th in the
random draw and the Vatican's application for a version in Cyrillic for
Russian and other Slavic languages came in 96th.
means the applicant could get approval early next year to operate the
new domain and approve addresses using it. In the Vatican's case, Rome
could then ensure only genuine Roman Catholic institutions get to use
that domain name.
"This is a way to give a coherence and
authentication to our presence in the digital arena," said Monsignor
Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social
"Anyone looking online will recognise the site
belongs to an institution that belongs to the Catholic Church," he said,
adding the new, so-called top level domain names (|TLDs) could also
help speed online searches.
.Bible and .Islam
retailers such as Amazon, whose application for .store in Japanese came
in second, early approval could mean a competitive advantage and prompt a
quick introduction of the new name.
But the Vatican did not enter
the draw for commercial reasons and would not rush to launch its TLDs,
Tighe said. In addition, the main TLD it seeks - .catholic in Latin
letters - ended up in 1,366th place and may take months before it is
Website owners are now restricted to a few dozen TLDs
such as .com and country code domains such as .co.uk or .fr. Many of the
1,930 applications for new TLDs came from companies, including Internet
giants such as Amazon and Google.
Several other faith-based
groups applied for other TLDs such as .bible or .islam. The extension
.mormon was the next-highest religious application drawn, coming in at
ICANN (www.icann.org), the Internet Corporation for
Assigned Names and Numbers, has stressed that assigning a certain TLD
does not imply any endorsement of the religious group seeking it, just
recognition it is the best suited to use the name.
Tighe said the
ICANN draw handled applications for TLDs in non-Latin alphabets first,
which explained why the Vatican's Chinese, Arabic and Cyrillic
extensions came out far ahead of its main TLD in Latin letters.
invited comments on applications earlier this year. The Vatican's
application for exclusive use of .catholic drew criticism from members
of several Protestant churches that also use the term, which comes from
the Greek for "universal".
"This request is a move by a powerful
group to squelch the voices and rights of other Christians," Dave
Daubert, pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Elgin, Illinois, wrote on the
ICANN webpage for comments on the applications.
Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, apparently saw no hope of a consensus on religious TLDs and opposed them all.
Some religions seem to have kept out of the fray entirely. There were no applications for .buddhist, .hindu or .jewish.
© Thomson Reuters 2012