Last evening, I had only about 10 minutes with my 6th graders (after we attended a presentation in the gym) so I used the time to talk to them a little bit about the papal conclave.
- First, I asked if anyone knew what important event was happening in Rome beginning Tuesday and most of them knew that a new pope was being elected.
- Then, I asked if anyone knew the correct term for this event and one young man responded “conclave.”
- I explained that 115 cardinals have gathered in Rome and have spent the last week or so talking and getting to know one another better so that they have a clearer idea of who might best serve as our next Holy Father.
- I then explained how the voting happens in a prayerful context without debate and bickering and explained that after each round of voting, the ballots are counted until someone receives a two-thirds majority.
- I asked if anyone knew how the cardinals indicate to the world whether they have elected a pope or not and the same young man who knew the word conclave responded about the black smoke and white smoke! (sharp kid…I’m pretty sure his mom is a high school religion teacher!)
- the kids were fascinated with the white/black smoke tradition.
- I then taught them how to say “We have a pope!” in Latin: “Habemus Papam!” (pronounced Hah-BEH-moos PAH-pahm). They were quite tickled by this and kept repeating it until they got it right! I told them to pay attention to the news for the use of this phrase.
- Finally, I explained how the new pope will be asked to announce the name he has chosen before coming out on the balcony and meeting the world and I reminded them that, when they are confirmed, they will have a choice of selecting a new name as well to signify being born again.
- We prayed for the cardinals and as the kids left, I shouted, “and how do we say ‘we have a pope!’ in Latin?” and they shouted back, “HABEMUS PAPAM!” as they moved through the hallways!