Catechists find teachable moments in pope’s plan to step down

By Celine Klosterman

Catechists in the Diocese of Davenport found educational opportunities in Pope Benedict XVI’s Feb. 11 announcement that he will resign at this month’s end.
At St. Mary Parish in West Point, five out of seven religious education students in a sixth- and seventh- grade class had heard the news by class time Ash Wednesday, Feb. 13, said teacher Liz Henderson. She, co-teacher Ed Blint and students discussed the demands on an aging pope, as well as the workload of local priests.
“We led up to how the cardinals choose a pope,” she said. She asked students, “Do all Catholics get to help choose the pope?” “Yes,” some youths answered. The catechists corrected that mistaken impression with a lesson on the process, which involves a conclave of 117 cardinals who cast secret ballots. A man must receive two-thirds of the votes to be elected pope.

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