Vatican tangled in the Web

March 12, 2009

jpii-and-laptopOne passage in Pope Benedict’s letter today about the Williamson affair particularly stood out — the part where he confessed to almost complete ignorance of the Internet. There can’t be many other world leaders who could write  the following lines without blushing: “I have been told that consulting the information available on the internet would have made it possible to perceive the problem early on. I have learned the lesson that in the future in the Holy See we will have to pay greater attention to that source of news.” This made it look as if the world’s largest church was ignorant of the world’s liveliest communications network.

That’s not the case, of course. The Vatican runs a very full website of its own, www.vatican.va, as do Vatican Radio (in 38 languages), Catholic bishops conferences, dioceses and parishes as well as Catholic publications all around the world.

icann-logoIn fact, somebody in the Vatican seems to be following the Internet far more closely that the mainstream media (including ourselves), which missed an interesting little nugget now popping up on tech blogs and some Catholic sites mostly in Europe. The Holy See’s representative to the Government Advisory Committee (GAC) of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) recently warned against the tensions that could be caused if ICANN created new top-level domain names (so-called gTLDs) for religions.

In a letter to the president of ICANN dated February 20, its representative Monsignor Carlo Maria Polvani spoke of “the possible perils connected with the assignment of new gTLDs with reference to religious traditions (e.g., .catholic, .anglican, .orthodox, .hindu, .islam; .muslim, .buddhist, etc…). These gTLDs could provoke  competing claims among theological and religious traditions and could possibly result in bitter disputes that would force ICANN, implicitly and/or explicitly, to abandon its wise policy of neutrality by recognizing to a particular group or to a specific organization the legitimacy to represent a given religious tradition.”

vatican-newsICANN President Paul Twomey responded on February 24 that ICANN was indeed considering new faith-based gTLDs but “an objection may be filed if there is substantial oppostion to the gTLD application from a significant portion of the community to which the gTLD string may be explicitly or implicitly targeted.”

Imagine a group of technicians and managers having to decide who gets to use the domain name “.islam”? What could they tell the Vatican if they ignore Polvani’s plea and let “.catholic” domain names proliferate out of control? What about that “.orthodox” domain name — orthodox what?

Is this a good idea?

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My oh my! – what a tangled web the Catholic Church weaves!

And where, someone please tell me, do we find the doctrine of Jesus Christ amongst all this cloak-and-dagger, clandestine, subversive and duplicitous claptrap?

When the leader of one of the richest institutions in the world – sorry? – did they call it a religion?! – starts talking complete double-speak nonsence, then who are we to judge?

Well, actually, those of us who are free-thinking, intellctually savvy and able, can and will and should apeak out at the abject cynicism of a so-called religious organisation that, amongst its sins, seeks to undermine the US by actively encouraging impoverished and desperate Catholics to migrate over the US border, whilst at the same time denying the dynamic relaity of the Internet.

I am astonished at the Pope’s brass-nosed cheek!

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