Say, what is a pope?

Say, what is a pope?


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"Who is the Pope?", "How is he elected?" "What does he do for work?" Your child's questions are not lacking? Know how to answer him.

What is a pope?

  • The word "Pope" comes from the Latin word papa which means father. The Pope is responsible for guiding the Church, he ensures that Catholics around the world remain united. He is a bit like a shepherd who takes care of his sheep and guides them. Another word for "shepherd" is "pastor". It is often said that the pope is the pastor of the Catholics of the world. But we can also compare the pope to a father: he ensures that everyone has his place in the Church. Usually, he remains pope until the day of his death. The first pope was the apostle Peter, chosen by Jesus to watch over the community of Christians, the Church.

How is it chosen?

  • When a pope dies, or resigns like Benedict XVI, some bishops called "cardinals" are responsible for electing his successor. They come from all over the world and gather in Rome to pray and reflect together. This is the "conclave". The cardinals lock themselves to vote in the Sistine Chapel inside the Vatican. They vote for one of them who will be the next pope. There is no candidate. Cardinals can choose who they want. They must therefore vote several times before agreeing. During the elections, they do not have the right to telephone, to send mails or to speak to outside people.
  • When the cardinals elected the new pope, a white smoke comes out of the chimney of the Sistine Chapel. This is the sign for the whole world that Catholics have a new leader. A cardinal then leaves on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica and proclaims in Latin "habemus papam!", Which means "we have a pope". The new pope then comes to bless the crowd.

What does he do for work?

  • The pope regularly brings together bishops from all over the world. This great meeting is called a "council".
  • The pope also writes letters to Catholics to guide them in their faith. These letters are called "encyclicals".
  • He receives daily visitors from all countries.

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