Immaculate Conception School Students Say They Want To See Changes

TUCKAHOE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The papal conclave is providing a teachable moment for students learning about the history and theology of the Catholic Church.

Nowhere is that more critical than in the Tri-State Area’s Catholic schools.

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CBS 2’s Lou Young visited a seventh grade religion class at Immaculate Conception School in Tuckahoe on Tuesday. The teacher took the students through the news accounts from Vatican City, where the cardinals failed on the first day of conclave to elect a new pope.

The cardinals celebrated their final mass before they sequestered themselves in the Sistine Chapel. Sequester means to “lock themselves in.”

But then what? The mechanics of the process pales beside the enormity of the moment. The children at Immaculate Conception seemed to understand their church could be at a pivotal point.

“Well, I think we’re so traditional we should try something new,” seventh grader Alaina Alfasi said, when asked what she’d like to see happen.

“I think it would be nice if women could become priests,” added student Adriana Coccuci.

“I want an American pope. Yes, because it’s always been Italian ones,” Marissa Gizzo added.

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Except for the German who just resigned and the Pole before him, but you get the idea. The concept of change is in the air.

“I would like to see Cardinal [Timothy] Dolan because there’s never been an American pope and it’ll change things up,” seventh grader Conner Watson said.

“I think he’ll be perfect as pope,” Sage Lembert said of Cardinal Dolan.

So in this neck of the woods they like the guy they know and would like to see this one move up, perhaps not realizing then they’d need a new Archbishop of New York. They’re watching, though, with interest. Some students at Immaculate Conception have a sophisticated understanding of what it all might mean.

“The pope is a mediator. Like he can tell you what you should do to get closer to God because he wants you to have the best spiritual life so you can go to heaven,” eighth grader Huntley Spenser said.

And from that point of view the stakes are just as about as high as they can get.

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