What Does It Mean to Be Catholic? Saudi Government Weighs In

Catholic:  of, relating to, or forming the ancient undivided Christian church or a church claiming continuity from it. 

–Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole.

–Wikipedia

 What does it mean to be Catholic?  It seems everyone’s got an opinion: 

  • The Nuns on the Bus think the pivotal descriptor for Catholics is social justice. How do you respond to your brother who is hungry, or who has come from a far-away land in search of a better life?
  • Some conservatives out there in the blogosphere think the people in the pews, the diocesan priests, even the bishops aren’t “Catholic” enough. 
  • Ultra-liberal Nancy Pelosi says that her Catholic faith “compels” her to support same-sex marriage.

Now this week, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia got into the act, attempting to block the Vatican’s purchase of rights to the .catholic domain name because “it cannot demonstrate that it possesses a monopoly over the term ‘Catholic’”. 

In its formal complaint to ICANN, the body in charge of web addresses, the Saudi Communication and Information Technology Commission said: “Many other Christians use the term ‘Catholic’ to refer more broadly to the whole Christian Church regardless of denominational affiliation…. Other Christian communions lay claim to the term “Catholic” such as the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Oriental Orthodox Church…  Therefore, we respectfully request that ICANN not award this.”

It’s not only the .catholic domain that has worked up the Saudi government, which is controlled by the royal family.  Other religions, too, should not—according to the Saudis—be permitted to have their own domain names.  They’ve also asked that bids be denied for .islam, .halal and .ummah

And according to a report by The Telegraph,

The Kingdom also made moral complaints about an array of planned new suffixes.

It said .baby, which three bidders including the baby powder maker Johnson & Johnson have applied to create, could be used to host and promote pornography.

“Pornography undermines gender equality and threatens public morals by objectifying and exploiting women,” the Saudi government said.

“The values expressed in pornography clash with the family concept and they undermine the traditional values that promote marriage, family, and children.”

It objected to .gay because it “will be offensive” to societies where homosexuality is “contrary to their culture, morality or religion”, to .tattoo as tattooing is prohibited in Islam and Judaism and to .bar on grounds that because of its association with alcohol the term “promotes activities that can be detrimental to public order and morals”.

A similar plan to create a .pub top-level domain aimed primarily at British landlords also raised Saudi hackles. Sir Richard Branson will have to fight objections from the Gulf power if he is to create .virgin, too.

The Saudis also objected to gambling-related applications in moral terms.

In all, the Saudi government has raised 160 objections to the planned new suffixes.  It remains to be seen whether ICANN, to which the Vatican has already paid a $185,000 fee to create the new .catholic domain, will return the funds and deny the Vatican the new domain.

Read the full story here.


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