LA Times, Thursday, December 21, 2000
Preaching the Power of Tech
Cardinal Roger M. Mahony has been
archbishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles--the largest
flock of Roman Catholics in the country--since 1985. In
1991, he became the youngest American named to the College
of Cardinals, a select group who are the pope's closest
advisors and who cast votes to choose new popes.
Mahony's interest in high tech
was apparent the day he and 23 other church officials
were installed as cardinals. Thousands in the overflow,
invitation-only crowd at the Vatican ceremony watched
it on a wall-size television lent by the L.A. diocese.
The son of a North Hollywood electrician,
Mahony, 64, is known for championing social causes while
maintaining strong beliefs in official church teachings.
One of his most cherished projects is a $163-million cathedral
complex under construction in downtown L.A. and scheduled
to open in 2002.
COMPUTER: I use an NEC laptop,
the Versa LX, for everything. I used to have a desktop
computer at home and one in the office, plus a laptop,
but I never had the right files in the right place. So
now I'm down to one computer. We have docking stations
so that when I'm at home or at the office I can use the
big screen and keyboard.
Q: And the laptop is handy for
your busy travel schedule?
The problem is finding airplanes
that provide power cords. The 747s, 777s and some 767s
have them, and so do the MD-11s. Alitalia, which I fly
to Rome, has the sockets for them on their MD-11s, but
they are not hooked up. I have written to the airline,
urging them to get the system activated.
Q: How often do you fly
About three times a year.
It's great that when I'm there, I can use the local number
for AOL to get my e-mail and check the news.
Q: You've urged bishops
to get wired to the Internet.
About four or five years
ago at a meeting of the [National Conference of Catholic
Bishops], made up of 50 bishops from all over the U.S.,
I circulated a sheet asking if they had e-mail. About
40 of them had no idea of what I was talking about. I
got back only two names--one who had e-mail and another
who said he was about to get it.
Back home we moved much
faster. By 1998, the diocese not only had an Internet
site, we also had our own intranet. We gave all the priests
in the diocese one year, and I reminded them every month,
to get a computer and online by Dec. 1, 1999. They all
got their own passwords for access to our intranet, and
it's been wonderful. Things we used to have to mail to
all the churches we can just put on the intranet.
Q: Did the bishops' conference
ever get wired?
They are still sending out
their report by mail. But I keep pushing them.
HAND-HELD: No, not yet.
For my personal calendar, I like to see the whole week
in greater detail than any PDA can provide at this point.
We use a Daytimer, with
two pages for each day. On the left side are my appointments,
and if I need greater detail it goes on the right side.
BOOKMARKED WEB SITES: I
look at the Catholic News Service [http://www.catholicnews.com]
for news about the church and the Vatican's Web site [http://www.vatican.va]
quite a bit.
Our own site [http://www.la-archdiocese.org]
has two Web cams that update pictures of the new cathedral
every three minutes. The cameras are mounted in the Hall
of Records across the street--one gives a faraway view
[the "Site cam"] and a close-up ["Cathedral cam"]. I can
check in on what's happening wherever I am.
SCREENSAVER: I do have one,
and it's a picture of the construction site I take from
the Web cams. I update it when I see a new picture I like.
CELL PHONE: A Nokia that
I use all the time in the car.
Q: Do you have one for Europe?
No, because of the time difference. It's easier to communicate
with my staff by e-mail when I am in Europe.
FAVORITE TECH TOY: My hobby
is amateur radio. It has gotten very high-tech, with the
use of satellites and transmitting images, but I just
use it to talk to people.
Q: Do you tell them who
No. Most don't ask. If someone
wants to know what kind of work I do, I just say I'm self-employed.
So, it's not lying.
HOME AUDIO/VIDEO SYSTEM:
For the new rectory, we will have great sound. There will
be surround sound in the big living room and the den.
I installed most of the wires in the walls before the
Sheetrock was put in.
Q: You don't mean you installed
I did. I used 12-gauge vampire
wire, which is really good and won't disintegrate.
Q: What components will
We haven't gotten that far.
The technology changes so fast, it doesn't make sense
to get it yet, but we'll be digital-ready.
When we have guests, we
can play music or show videos. Or watch football games.
HAS TECHNOLOGY CHANGED YOUR
DAILY LIFE?: I have become so dependent on the computer.
I can think and draft on a computer in a way that I couldn't
by hand or dictation. I use it to write all my homilies
Q: Has using a computer
changed your writing?
I think so. In the past
when I had to type or write by hand, I would not go back
and make little changes. I just didn't bother. But now
I can go back and tweak things in a way that I think makes
my writing better.
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told to DAVID COLKER