Today ICANN release a list of all the generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) that have been applied for since January 12 this year. Among rather oddball names such as .lol, .boo, and .barefoot, the Vatican (yes, the Vatican.va one in Italy) has applied for four domains, all variations of the English word ‘Catholic’. The domains are:
Not all of these domains will necessarily be approved, but I think there’s a good chance they will be, since the Vatican’s the only entity asking for them, and since they’re pretty much uncontested words.
The application came with a fee of $185,000/domain—which is no small price—but the benefits of owning a top-level Domain are plenty, and I don’t find it unreasonable that the universal Church would spend a half-million to stake some territory on the Internet.
The Vatican has already said the domains would only be allowed for use by actual Catholic dioceses and organizations (you won’t be seeing curtjester.catholic or anything like that!), and, presumably, the Vatican already has resources in place to run its own domain registry service (probably not anything like GoDaddy, I’m sure!).
Of course, many see the opening up of top level domains (currently restricted to .com, .org, .net, among a bunch of others that are country or organization-specific) as a money grab by ICANN and some influential domain registrars. Another possible downside would be a ‘siloing’ of the Internet; I can imagine schools and certain organizations restricting all Internet access to a set of domains, like only .catholic and .edu… but we’ll see!