Boston Cardinal Launching Podcasts

By Jim Finkle

Boston's Cardinal Sean O'Malley, the Internet-savvy leader of the fourth-largest U.S. Roman Catholic diocese, is bringing the church's

2,000-year-old message to the world's millions of iPod owners.

O'Malley will become the first of the Catholic Church's 186 cardinals worldwide to launch a podcast and use the technology to reach followers, said Father Robert Reed, who runs a Web site that will distribute the podcasts, on Thursday.

The cardinal, who already maintains his own blog, plans to deliver his first video message over the Web on Christmas Eve, issuing holiday greetings in English, Spanish and Portuguese that can be played on demand. That will be followed up next month with downloadable video podcasts.

Podcasts are audio and video programs that can be downloaded from the Internet and played on iPods and other digital media players.

The Archdiocese of Boston has turned to the Web to unify its followers and help repair its damaged image after a pedophile priest scandal that erupted in 2002 in Boston and spread to other U.S. dioceses, sparking hundreds of lawsuits.

Last month, it launched a password-protected Intranet computer network that links the cardinal with about 800 priests in Massachusetts. He's also issued them e-mail accounts.

"He embraces technology," said Reed, who is director of Catholic TV, a cable TV station in Massachusetts.

The station recently launched

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which will feature podcasts, video-on-demand programming and a live stream of Catholic TV.

O'Malley, 62, was named to run Boston's troubled Catholic church in

2003. He wears the plain brown habit and rope belt of his Capuchin order, founded in the 16th century as an offshoot of the Franciscan Order.

In September, he became the first U.S. cardinal to launch a blog,

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, where he posts photos and messages describing his activities each week.

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.

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