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Utah Catholic teens looking for a tech-savvy pope

Published February 11, 2013 6:47 pm

Religion • Juan Diego High School theology class discusses how next pontiff will be chosen.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Draper • What's one of the first questions to come to a Utah teen's mind with Monday's shocker that the pope is resigning?

How about: Will he change his Twitter name?

For weeks now, Juan Diego Catholic High School juniors have been conducting research for their "pope projects," picking church leaders to investigate.

Some chose the current leader, Benedict XVI, the first pope with a Twitter account.

So the 22 curious students were ready to discuss the 85-year-old pope's surprise announcement. And they all seemed to have absorbed it in a technologically tinged way. Even filtered through their 21st-century teen lenses, there was still room for a cool, pragmatic approach to the news.

One student asked • "Will the pope get a new Twitter name?"

Juan Diego theology teacher Nicole Veltri answered • "Probably."

Question • Will he still be called Benedict XVI?

Answer • Probably not.

Question • Will he get to vote for the new pope?

Answer • No because he's over age 80.

Veltri told her students a couple of weeks ago that popes do not resign. That changed Monday.

"In 1415, it happened," Veltri said, referring to the last time a pope stepped down. "[Electing a new pope] is not as simple as when you vote for class president."

Veltri said 118 cardinals would be choosing the next pope — and two-thirds of them will need to agree on the successor.

"It could take anywhere from a couple of weeks to three to four months," Veltri told the students. "As Catholics, we may have to go into Easter without a pope."

Pope Benedict XVI's official Twitter page is @Pontifex ("pontiff," in Latin). Although he and his staff have sent fewer than 40 tweets since December, his account boasts 1.5 million followers.

Still, when revealing his resignation, the pope did it the old-fashioned way — speaking in Latin to a group of cardinals.

Madeline Lehman, 17, hopes the next pope will have a more modern outlook — perhaps tweeting even more.

"Everything is changing now," Lehman said. "I'd like to see someone changing with the times."


Twitter @rayutah —

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