The Catholic Semantic Web is a network of resources and tools to provide computer intelligent services.


Tim Berners-Lee who created the internet all those years ago is head of the World Wide Web Consortium which sets the standards and direction for the internet. The Sematic web IS the future direction of the web and as the above quote highligts, involves ‘automated tools’ ie articifical intelligence. To get a better understanding of this technology, you may like to read the various articles on the Semantic web page at w3c, such as ‘Semantic Web Revisited’.

The semantic web is based on a variety of technologies including XML, Natural Language Processing, and Artificial Intelligence.

EXtensible Markup Language (XML), is a meta-standard that provides a framework to interconnect information about information. HTML expresses how information should look, eg bold, XML expresses what the information actually is, eg an address. To correctly interpret information, there needs to be a way to correctly connect information about information, eg a person has an address, a person is male or female. There are various technologies that address these issues, such as Resource Description Framework (RDF) which is a particluar XML standard.

Once information is correctly ‘marked-up’ it needs to be interpreted, this processing is called natural language processing which seeks to interpret natural languages such as English. There are various processes that are part of nlp, such as recognising the part-of-speech of a word, eg verb, adjective, noun. Another one is to be able to correctly connect words, ie grammar, eg subject, object, adjectival phrase. There are several versions of these tools available freely, such as ‘General Architecture for Text Engineering (GATE).

Tools such as GATE give limited artificial intelligence, but future tools will reach beyond processing. The future is being realised now and these tools are being used in many ways already.


Christians are already utilising this technology. The Bible Society is developing a XML namespace for scripture. The Christian Classics Etheral Library (CCEL) has developed a Theological XML (Thml) . The Bible Technologies Group has created a XML schema for scripture, commentaries and related texts called Open Scriptural Information Standard (OSIS) . Already various projects are underway to make use of this standard, such as  Open Source Bible Software . In a similar way, Catholics would be able to develop Catechetical software resources if there was a Catechism XML.


The Vatican has already invested in this technology through the use of ETML. The vatican site has some markup on some documents eg This development comes from which uses the technology from Most of the site is not in English, you could use google translate to read it in English.

Cathnet is dedicated to the Catholic development of this technology and already one of our members has used the OSIS standard to markup the Catechism. Contact us if you want to know more.


C3ML (Catechism of the Catholic Church Markup Language) is a XML for the Catechism. There is already a XML for scripture, why not for the Catechism?


The Catechism is the key official document that spans Catholic theology. C3ML would provide the Standard upon which powerful computer applications would be able to provide superior sharing, accessibility, linking and referencing of catechetical resources. C3ML as a standard would provide a common means of sharing these resources across disparate groups in the Church.

A Catechism XML would provide an organisational principle that can categorise other Catholic documents. This would be a key component in a Catholic namespace. As an international standard, resources in different languages would be commonly linked and therefore available.


  • Interoperability Church related documents will be able to be shared through the developing technologies and portals being created as well as across languages.
  • Accessibility Document searches will be far more accurate and will have very little erroneous material.
  • Linking Relationships between documents will be clearer and thus allowing for better navigation. Navigation will be able to follow the ideas within the documents with greater accuracy, rather than trying to find related documents and then having to find the ideas within a document.
  • Reference Any document that refers to a particular Catechism paragraph can be found and only those documents will be listed.
  • Integration Allow integration in new technologies such as Natural Language Processing and Knowledge Representation Tools.



The ultimate would be a RDF of the Catechism that could automatically catalogue any catholic web resource and provide automatic referencing of the catechism for documents. This could then be extended to all documents in the Vatican repository. If the Catechism were to be corretly marked up into a corpus, ie a tag set that correctly references every word and how that word relates to others in the sentence, and document. This is beyond a phD project! this document can then be used by NLP tools to far more accuratly markup other theological documents and thus provide a great service to the theological world and would bring theology into the semantic web. These NLP tools can then with a far higher degree of accuracy index theological documents according to the structure of the Catechism and in a way to theological structure itself, since the Catechism covers the core of Catholic theology and is a definitive document and thus THE mechanism par excellence for this purpose. 

Once this is achieved, a sample application would be realtime Catechism referencing. Imagine you are typing a theological document, as you type your system is correlating what you are typing with C3ML and when it finds a high correlation it suggests a quote from the Catechism that is applicable and offers to footnote that quote or include if for you. Imagine if the whole vatican library was available this way? Imagine if the whole Catholic internet was availble this way? … this gives you some idea of the potential of the Catholic Semantic Web.

Another application is autmatically concept mapping the Catechism. To read about this a proposal that explains this is available here.