Selection of new pope interests catholics at UNL

Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter's Square, Rome in 2007. Photo by Marek Kosniowski.

By Torin Otis, NewsNetNebraska

As the papal conclave gathers to elect a new Bishop of Rome, students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln reflect when Pope Benedict XVI was elected. Senior industrial engineering major Mike Mumaugh recalls that day eight years ago.

“My parents sat down with me and talked about the significance of it and the excitement surrounding it,” said Mumaugh, a Catholic from Omaha.

Pope Benedict XVI, who is 85, announced Monday he will resign at the end of the month “due to an advanced age.”

The announcement shocked the Church and its 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.

“My strengths, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry,” Benedict said, according to the Vatican.

Pope Benedict XVI is the first pope to step down in nearly 600 years.

When asked whether he plans on following the process leading up to the selection of the new pope, Mumaugh said he does and recommends others do too.

“He is the head of the Catholic Church, and his direction and decisions affect billions of people.”

Mumaugh’s friend Dan Reiff, a biological systems engineering major, said he understands the resignation is a big deal, but his interest isn’t as strong.

“I see the pope as more of a figurehead. It’s nice that he has a Twitter, but I’m not directly affected,” Reiff,  who is not Catholic, said.

Kyla Wesely is a Catholic, and she agrees with Reiff.

“I know it will obviously be someone worthy of being the pope,” Wesely said.

While the announcement has affected individual students, religious classes at UNL haven’t seen the same effects. Senior lecturer in religious studies Dan Crawford said his schedule remains the same.

“I talked about Lance Armstrong in class today,” Crawford said, “but I didn’t talk about the pope.”

A new Roman Catholic leader could be elected by Palm Sunday, on March 24, and ready to take over by Easter a week later, according to Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi.

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