The Catholic Church has a large and growing footprint on the Internet. In advance of Pope Francis’ visit to Washington, D.C., this week, here are a few domain name-related facts about the pope and the church:
The Holy See is a member of ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee. It is represented on the GAC by Mauro Milita, Director of Vatican Radio Computer Dept., and Monsignor Carlo Maria Polvani, Office of the Secretariat of State.
The Holy See’s .va country-code domain does not have a dispute resolution policy.
The Holy See is not a member of ICANN’s Country-Code Name Supporting Organization.
The Catholic Church has never filed a claim under ICANN’s Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy challenging a domain name registration.
The domain name popefrancis.com was initially registered by a Chicago attorney in 2010. The attorney gave the domain to the Catholic Church after Pope Francis assumed the papacy on March 13, 2013.
There are only a few dozen domains registered in the .va country-code domain, one of which is www.news.va/en, which hosts the Official Vatican Network website.
The Catholic Church successfully applied to manage the .catholic top-level domain. The application was filed by the Pontificium Consilium de Comunicationibus Socialibus (PCCS), an administrative arm of the church. According to its application, the PCCS “will not sell, distribute or transfer control or use of any registration in the TLD to any third party that is not identified within the TLD Catholic Community.” That means that “individual adherents” won’t be allowed to register .catholic domain names.
The website at popefrancisvisit.com is an example of private enterprise using related keywords to drive traffic to a site containing news about the visit and pope-related merchandise, such as this “I Love Pope Francis” t-shirt.