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Cardinals Share Pre-Conclave Thoughts
PHOTO: Cardinal Dolans twitter page has 89,046 followers as of March 6, 2013, but he follows only one, Benedict XVI, now listed as Sede Vacante with name @Pontifex.

(Image Credit: @CardinalDolan/Twitter)

If the next pope were chosen by an online popularity contest, three social-media-savvy cardinals would have to duke it out for the top spot.

The Twitter and Facebook accounts of Cardinals Timothy Dolan of New York, Luis Tagle of Manila and Gianfranco Ravasi of Italy have accounted for over 85 percent of cardinals's social-media use, according to Decisyon, an Italian start-up specializing in social media analysis.

At least nine of the 115 cardinal electors who tweet will be silenced when they go into the conclave, but that hasn't stopped some of them from sharing their thoughts.

Dolan, the affable American cardinal, has tweeted nearly every day from Rome during the pre-conclave meetings.

Lord, help me recognize you're with me all the time. In easy times or difficult times, you're there. And it is good to be here with you.

— Cardinal Dolan (@CardinalDolan) March 5, 2013

Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles tweeted about the diversity of the church leaders. More than half of the cardinal electors were appointed by Benedict XVI, and for many, this is their first time meeting their counterparts from around the world.

Fascinating meeting Cardinals from all around the world.Stories and needs so different; but always a uniform focus on Jesus Christ!

— Cardinal Mahony(@CardinalMahony) March 5, 2013

Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, the archbishop of Durban, South Africa, has been the most prolific tweeter of the bunch.

We are in Congregations & still in different residences. Hence access to Internet possible. In St Martha there's no bandwidth of any kind!

— Cardinal Napier (@CardinalNapier) March 6, 2013

Why I'm still tweeting. We have asked 4 your prayer & still do. Thanks 4 kind response. It's good to know & feel accompanied at each step.

— Cardinal Napier (@CardinalNapier) March 6, 2013

Of those who use social media, Ravasi and Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer of Brazil are considered strong contenders to become the next pope.

Ravasi, who served as the Vatican's culture minister under Benedict XVI, tweets from two accounts in English and Italian, but announced on Feb. 28, the day Benedict XVI retired, he would be silent until the next pope is chosen.

Thanks to all my followers for sharing this journey. I'll take my leave from you now for a few days…In friendship! twitter.com/CardRavasi/sta…

— Gianfranco Ravasi (@CardRavasi_en) February 28, 2013

Earlier this year, Ravasi said he began listening to Amy Winehouse in order to understand youth. A frequent tweeter, Ravasi is fond of sharing quotes ranging from Dostoevsky to the Talmud.

Other cardinals with a strong Twitter presence include Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston (@CardinalSean),Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez of Colombia (@CardenalRuben), Cardinal Lluis Martinez Sistach of Spain (@sistachcardenal) and Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan (@angeloscola).

Scola, who is considered a frontrunner for the papacy, recently suspended his account, but he may not have to reactivate it, according to oddsmakers. They say he is a strong favorite to inherit the @Pontifex handle.

ABC News has put together a Twitter list, including some of these cardinals and our own reporters who are on the ground in the Vatican. You can follow them all here.

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