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6:17 am
Tue March 12, 2013

Election Of New Pope A Special Lesson At Wichita Catholic School

The Roman Catholic cardinal electors begin their conclave Tuesday to decide on a successor to Pope Benedict XVI who resigned last month.

Holy Savior Church and Academy social studies teacher Mike Meyer talks with students about electing new pope.
Holy Savior Church and Academy social studies teacher Mike Meyer talks with students about electing new pope.
Credit Carla Eckels / KMUW

At Holy Savior Catholic Church and Academy in Wichita, students and staff are also weighing in on the process.

Middle school social studies teacher Mike Meyer hands out paper for an assignment.

"If you were a voting cardinal, what qualities, what characteristics are you looking for as the new pope?" he asks.

Thirteen year old, Kyree Straughter says he should be a strong leader, trustworthy and nice.

"Maybe young in the 40's, 50's and keep our catholic nation up," she says.

Classmate Daniel Jurado says he is looking for a nice pope that can make good decisions.

"He has to make the right decisions," says Jurado. "He has to be young and strong so he can live a long life leading the Catholic faith."

Andrea Penelton works with the children in religion classes. She says she was shocked when Pope Benedict XVI stepped down, but is excited about the opportunity to teach students about the election process, including voting judges called scrutineers.

"They may ask about the words, like the scrutineers, and you know the Latin terms," she says. "It's all a learning process. They're excited and their main thing is, 'Do we have a pope yet? Do we have a pope yet?' Well, no guys, we don't know yet."

Seventh grader Quaylyn Reed says he wants a pope that's smart and can make bad things right.

"I'll actually have memory of a pope being elected, so I think it's kind of cool that I get to witness that," he says.

There's lot of speculation on who will be the next pope, and social studies teacher Mike Meyer says various candidates are being discussed.

"Some of the talk has been about a Latin pope, Brazil in particular being the fastest growing Catholic country in the world," he says."There's also been some discussion about an African Pope."

Ghana's Cardinal Peter Turkson is a top African contender for the job. 

A Pope of color is something eighth grader Mystic Ross would favor.

"I've been thinking that if we ever get a pope that's African, has the dark skin, I think that would be a really good blessing," she says. 

All the popes we have, they're, like, white and European and stuff and we have never had any African popes around... it's going to be just as huge as when Barack Obama became president for the first time."

Holy Savior 's Principal Delia Schropshire says Catholics are praying for a leader who is open to the Holy Spirit, has wisdom like Solomon and is able to make just decisions.

"To be able to lead and direct us in a way that would be pleasing to God and to steer us back to our morals, to our basic values and whether that be charismatic or managerial, it doesn't really matter," she says.

"What really matters is that they're open to the guidance, to be able to lead the people where they need to be because people suffering today, there's a lot of need."

Once a pope is elected Schropshire says the school will have a special mass and take the children to St. Mary's cathedral in downtown Wichita.

"We are planning to take the children to the cathedral because it's been newly renovated and so hopefully we can join those two activities together," she says. 

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