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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 April, 2005, 07:34 GMT 08:34 UK
Papal e-mail address goes on sale
Pope Benedict XVI
Sellers registered several e-mail addresses using the pontiff's name
A journalism student from Dublin is hoping to sell an e-mail address for Pope Benedict XVI on eBay in a bid to slightly reduce his student loan.

Vincent Flood, 27, immediately set up popebenedictxvi@hotmail.it when he heard Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had chosen a new papal name.

One bid of 80 has been received from the US, but Mr Flood is not alone in his attempts to cash in.

A Canadian seller has a starting price of $100,000 for popebenedictxvi.com.

Mr Flood, a lapsed Catholic studying in London, said he had not been sophisticated enough to register a domain name.

"I just did it for a laugh, wasn't really thinking about it. I definitely wasn't sitting by my computer waiting for the announcement," he told the BBC News website.

'Truly divine'

"I'm not too worried about any legal problems - I'll just give the buyer the password and that'll be it."

His sales pitch describes the "Holy Hotmail account" as a "truly divine way to stay in touch with friends".

But it is unlikely that the "authentic '.it' address" will prove the sender is the pontiff, as Mr Flood claims.

While he thought that offering popebenedictxvi@hotmail.co.uk might undervalue his Italian address, others had no such marketing qualms.

One eBay listing is offering a double helping - popebenedictxvi@catholicemail.com with popebenedictXVI@usa.net at a modest $4.99 starting bid.

Popebenedict.de, popebenedict16th.de, and www.popebenedict-16.com are also up for sale.

Of course the Vatican has its own official website at www.vatican.va.

And several e-mail addresses have been set up for those wishing to send greetings to the new pope.

English speakers can e-mail him at benedictxvi@vatican.va.

Other addresses include benedictoxvi@vatican.va for Spanish speakers, benediktxvi@vatican.va for German speakers, benoitxvi@vatican.va for francophones, benedettoxvi@vatican.va for Italians and bentoxvi@vatican.va for Portuguese speakers.

When Pope Benedict XVI's predecessor John Paul II became seriously ill, the Vatican also set up several addresses for well-wishers, also in various languages.

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