NEW YORK (AP) _ Cardinal John J. O'Connor expects to begin a weekly half-hour television program next month, his chief spokesman said Sunday.

The New York prelate's program hopefully will feature ''an entirely new type of format for a religious program,'' according to Monsignor Peter Finn, O'Connor's spokesman.

O'Connor will spend the program discussing religious topics with guests, Finn said. But he declined to discuss the program in depth, saying details still were being worked out.

When O'Connor was named archbishop of New York in 1984 he expressed interest in having such a regular television program, and has said he believes religious leaders must use the electronic media to get their message across.

In the 1950s another New York bishop, Fulton J. Sheen, became one of the most popular figures in the early days of television. His half-hour program on ABC, ''Life is Worth Living,'' drew an estimated weekly audience of 25 million in 1954.