Students at the Yadkin Early College got a crash course in Catholicism, what the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI meant to the world and why it should matter to a group of Yadkin County students.
David Brown, substituting for Blake Johnson’s civic class, called in Jose Gonzalez and Alexandra Banasik to discuss the topic with his students and how this historical news pertains to them.
“This is not necessarily a civics topic, but I think something that hasn’t happened in 600 years is significant,” Brown said. “This is a societal issue, and civics is also a social course.”
Gonzalez and Banasik are both coordinators for the Hispanic ministry for the diocese of Charlotte. Through their positions they work to help priests to organize and work with their Spanish congregations.
They are also the parents of a Yadkin Early College student, and when Brown learned about their positions in the church he saw a perfect opportunity for a question and answer session for his class.
Banasik said that the now that the Pope has announced his resignation there have been many speculations as to why he made the decision. There has been talk of a scandal and talk of illness. She points out that no one knows the reason for the decision.
“Do you know anyone in this county that is 85 years old that is still working?” Gonzalez asked the class.
No one answered, and Gonzalez pointed out that this proved his point. He noted that the Pope must work 12-hour days seven days a week.
“We have problems in our home, and our Pope has problems in his home as well,” Gonzalez said. “The Pope doesn’t only worry about Catholics; he worries about everyone because God created everyone.”
Gonzalez went on to explain to the students that the Vatican operates as a small country, and the Pope acts as the spiritual leader and the president of the Vatican.
Banasik said the Pope will leave his post on Feb. 28 at 8 p.m., and once he steps down the Cardinals of the church will gather to decide who will be the next chosen. The Cardinals have 20 days to make their choice and typically choose a Cardinal to nominate.
“The Pope who takes over must be strong mentally and physically, and he needs to know what he’s talking about,” Banasik said.
Gonzalez said that during the interval the church’s secretary of state would be in charge of the Vatican.
One student inquired whether the church would ever allow a female Pope to be nominated.
“The Catholic church cannot accept a woman as Pope,” Banasik said. “The church doesn’t believe that women can handle the responsibilities of Pope. Men are the head of the family in the Bible, and the church is a family. So a man must be the head of the church.”
Gonzalez pointed out that many things have changed with the times within the church, and that this too could be changed in the future. However, Gonzalez said it’s unlikely for now.
Gonzalez explained that once the Pope leaves the Vatican he will no longer be involved in the decision making and will head to a convent where he will spend his time praying and writing.
This addresses the Pope’s recognition as being infallible. Gonzalez said that the Pope is only considered infallible while he is in the cathedral teaching. When he is out of the cathedral he is considered human and not divine.
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