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The Vatican literally wins the domain name lottery

The Vatican has won the first pick in ICANN's lottery for new top-level domain names. That means .catholic (in Chinese) will join .com and .net in 


Jordan Valinsky


Posted on Dec 21, 2012   Updated on Jun 2, 2021, 4:57 am CDT

The Vatican’s dominance of the Internet continues as the Catholic Church’s bid to control the top-level domain .catholic in Chinese might come true.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will first consider the Holy See’s bid for 天主教 (.catholic written in Chinese) early next year. Registered by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Social Communication, if approved the move will allow the Church to screen candidates registering for the “.catholic” address.

ICANN will pore through thousands of top-level domain applications over the next few years as it seeks to prevent the Internet from running out of addresses. Currently only 22 top-level domains are in use (including .net and .com), in addition to the 280 country-specific domains (like

In June, ICANN revealed that 1,300 companies applied for new domains, like .lol and .youtube. An application cost each interested party $185,000.

The Vatican’s high rank means it gets its first-pick of top-level domains. Its bid for .catholic in Arabic landed in 25th place, and in Cyrillic and other Slavic languages in 96th place. The Catholic Church’s main bid for .catholic in Latin letters landed at 1,366th place.

Rounding out the top 10 was a Pan-Asian collection of names including Amazon’s proposal for .store spelled in Japanese in second place. Computer giant Apple’s application for .apple landed in 948th place, noted The Register.

ICANN told Reuters it considered applications with non-Latin alphabets first and said assigning a domain does not mean it’s endorsing a religious group, just explaining the applicant is best suited to use the name.

Earlier this year in a feedback forum to those wanting to voice dissent at applications, Protestant leaders scoffed at the Vatican’s application for .catholic. Some Protestant churches also applied for the word since it’s Greek for “universal.” Saudi Arabia also took umbrage with several applications looking to register .vodka, .sex, and .gay.

Notably, some religions stayed out of the bidding process. There were no bidders for .hindu, .jewish, or .buddhist.

Photo via avmancera/Hashgram

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*First Published: Dec 21, 2012, 6:49 pm CST