HOST INTRO: The Archdiocese of Boston is still trying to repair relations with its faithful following the clergy sexual abuse scandal and parish reconfiguration. And it's trying to reach out to younger Catholics. The church is using a traditional asset with the latest technology. Cardinal Sean O'Malley is blogging and podcasting. WBUR's Monica Brady-Myerov reports.
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MONICA BRADY-MYEROV: All of Cardinal Sean O'Malley's podcasts open with the same soothing religious Latin chant while pictures of His Eminence kneeling before the Pope, smiling broadly, or hugging a child fade in and out. The video podcasts are called the "Cardinal Cast". He's done nine since Christmas but has stepped up his internet broadcasts now, during Lent. In this one downloaded from icatholic.com, O'Malley says most Catholics take the wrong approach, using Lent as time to lose weight or abstain from chocolate.
CARDINAL SEAN O'MALLEY: Then our Lent will have been wasted if you haven't used it as a time to renew our love for the Lord, our relationship with Him and take more time for prayer and for charity in our life.
MONICA BRADY-MYEROV: The Cardinal is dressed as he always is, in a simple brown robe. He looks decidedly un--high tech. Other denominations are sending out daily psalms via email or cellphone. And some pastors and rabbis have blogs. But this is the centuries old Catholic Church. Father Robert Reed is the director of Catholic TV in Boston.
ROBERT REED: He has attained some kind of almost celebrity status as a cardinal in the sense that he's known as the blogging cardinal and the podcasting cardinal.
MONICA BRADY-MYEROV: But he's not the first cardinal to podcast, Cardinal Frances Arinze in Rome is. But he is the first American cardinal to do so. The downloadable segments are edited from a show on Catholic TV. David O'Brien who teaches religion, ethics and culture at The College of the Holy Cross says using emerging media is nothing new for religion.
DAVID O'BRIEN: Way back in the 1930's priests like Father Charles E. Caughlin and less famous priests used the radio to reach new audiences on Sunday afternoons and Bishop Fulton J. Sheehan became a popular TV personality back in the 1950s
MONICA BRADY-MYEROV: O'Malley started the blog in September when he went to Italy to accept his promotion to cardinal. People wrote in asking what he was eating for dinner and whether he was trying the local wines. The blog received more than a million hits in the first month says O'Malley in this podcast.
CARDINAL SEAN O'MALLEY: It's very very inspiring that people want to feel that connected to the church. We just got the read out from the company and every state has had people tune in and many many counties not only English speaking but North Korea and all over Africa and North America mind boggling it shows the power of the internet today.
MONICA BRADY-MYEROV: O'Malley says the internet is an important instrument for the church to be able to connect to young people. And it allows the church to speak directly with the faithful says Catholic TV's Father Reed.
ROBERT REED: I think we're trying to just anybody who is looking for or interested in or curious about the Catholic faith the Catholic Church. Actually these same videos we're using for the podcast are avalible on youtube believe it or not.
MONICA BRADY-MYEROV: Does he have a myspace page?
ROBERT REED: He does not. Not that I know of unless he's done it himself.
MONICA BRADY-MYEROV: Cardinal O'Malley does not have a myspace page.
For WBUR I'm Monica Brady-Myerov
This program aired on March 13, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.