The Vatican has announced that it wants to create a “.catholic” domain name as a way of validating official Catholic institutions online – just one day after rolling out a major shift in its communications strategy.
“Our idea is that those communities that make up the Church will be able to apply to have this ‘dot catholic’ web address as a way of authenticating their presence in the web space,” said Monsignor Paul Tighe, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, in an interview with Vatican Radio.
The online suffix would be granted by the Vatican to Catholic bodies across the world so that internet users “can be certain that it’s coming from a genuinely Catholic source,” he said.
The Vatican is just one of nearly 2,000 new applications to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the California-based organization that decides on new domain names.
The news comes only a day after the Vatican announced that the Holy See Press Office will start to publish media releases in English, Spanish and French from September 2012 onwards. At present, Vatican media releases are published principally in Italian, unless the original texts are in other languages.
The Vatican Press Office will also increase its staff, following the parallel decision to transfer workers across from the Vatican Information Service, which will close down at the end of July.
Commonly referred to as the “VIS,” the service has issued news updates at 3:00 p.m. every Vatican workday since 1991. It currently has about 60,000 subscribers. They will now receive the translated Press Office bulletin instead.
The Vatican’s Press Office also announced June 12 that “the extensive archive of more than 85,000 articles” in various languages that were created by the VIS … “will be conserved and integrated, with a simple and rapid search engine,” which will be accessible on the press office’s website.
Meanwhile, those VIS employees who are not transferred to the press office will be deployed “to reinforce the multilingual 'news.va' portal which was established a year ago by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications,” the statement said.
Launched by Pope Benedict XVI in June 2011, the news.va site brought together all the Vatican’s communication outlets into one online location for the first time.
That list includes Fides News Agency, the newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, the Holy See Press Office, the Vatican Information Service, Vatican Radio and the Vatican television service, CTV. However, each news source still maintains its own independent website.
Finally, Vatican Radio has also announced plans to reduce its short and medium wave transmissions to most of Europe and the Americas, starting July 1.
Founded in 1931, the station is increasingly using the newer technologies of satellite and the internet, as well as local rebroadcasting, to transmit its programs in 40 different languages around the world.
“After celebrating its 80th birthday last year, Vatican Radio is ready to open a new chapter in its history by committing its message of service to the Gospel and the Church to new communication technologies,” said the station’s Director General, Father Federico Lombardi.