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L.A. Now Live: Cardinal Mahony uses Twitter, blog as pulpit

February 27, 2013 |  7:56 am

Cardinal Roger Mahony has turned to his computer keyboard as a powerful weapon to defend himself against those criticizing his handling of the sex abuse cases.

Times staff writer Harriet Ryan will join L.A. Now Live at 9 a.m. on Wednesday to discuss Mahony's public relations campaign on social media -- and his decision to attend a conclave to elect a new pope.

As archbishop of Los Angeles, Mahony responded to criticism with a high-priced crisis management firm, full-page ads in Spanish and English newspapers, and a report naming accused priests.

Since last month, when outrage flared anew over files showing he shielded abusers, the cardinal has thrown himself into social media to give the public his side of the story.

It was on his blog that Mahony defended himself against a public rebuke by his successor, and it was on Twitter account that he confirmed, to the dismay of many critics, that he would attend the conclave to elect a new pope. "Am planning to be in Rome and vote for the next Pope," he wrote hours after Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation. He added, "Will be twee[t]ing daily."

It was an extraordinary pledge from a man who had tweeted just five times before and only sporadically updated his blog. But as Catholic groups, members of the public and even some Vatican officials continued to question Mahony's integrity, he became ever more prolific online.

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