Cardinal Dolan enters the Twitterverse

The Roman Catholic archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, has filled the pews at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. He has spoken before Pope Benedict XVI and the College of Cardinals in Rome. As archbishop of Milwaukee, he once put on a Green Bay Packers “cheesehead” during an outdoor Mass.

But in recent weeks, the cardinal and his office prepared for an entirely different kind of address: his first Twitter message. Options were discussed. Arrangements were made. By the evening of May 8, it was settled. “Hey everybody. It’s Timothy Cardinal Tebow,” @CardinalDolan posted. “I mean Dolan.”

In less than two weeks on Twitter, Cardinal Dolan has made a modest mark. By Friday, he had about 8,500 followers. He writes roughly twice a day, offering religious meditations, plugs for his radio shows and occasional flares of gentle humor. Cardinal Dolan hopes the platform will help him reach new and perhaps younger audiences by extending “an implicit invitation” to learn more about church teachings, said Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York. The cardinal might also have to contend with Twitter’s widespread irreverence.

Bill McGarvey, whose consulting firm, McG Media, has advised religious groups about social media use, said that often the greatest challenge for religious institutions was understanding the “very dialogic and dynamic medium” they were entering — a forum in which the interplay with other users can be as important as more traditional pronouncements of faith. Indeed, Cardinal Dolan’s account currently follows no one. [more]


New York Times