Catholic professors in Dubuque call conclave historic - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Catholic professors in Dubuque call conclave historic

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

While a passing snow flurry blanketed the Loras College campus in flakes Tuesday afternoon, assistant professor of practical theology Amanda Osheim taught her students in a class on Catholic identity. At the end of the class, she planned on inviting her students to a presentation that evening on the importance, history and relevance of conclave, the process by which the Catholic church selects a new pope.

"I think the important part about conclave for students to know is that often in the media it gets portrayed as being very secretive, and certainly it's unusual compared to our democratic process in the United States," Osheim said, "but really what we're hoping the cardinals will do is go in with a prayerful spirit in which they're wanting to discern the holy spirit and to discern which person might be the best leader for the Catholic Church in light of its current needs throughout the world."

Unlike some conclaves in recent history, there are no clear papal forerunners this time around, leaving the door open for some new options.

"That drives us crazy because we want to know!" Loras history professor David Salvaterra said Tuesday in his office.

Salvaterra has studied the history of the papacy and said whomever the cardinals will choose for pope this conclave - and whatever his nationality - is anybody's guess at this point.

"What happens now? Nobody knows," Salvaterra said. "Don't I wish I knew!"

He cautioned the needs of one nation are very different than the needs of another, and anybody selected as pope has to represent all of them. Of course, each pope has his own style and direction.

"Eventually, American Catholics will be reconciled to it, whatever it is. Australian Catholics and Japanese Catholics. Everybody will eventually come to grips with it somehow," he said.

Given all the unknowns this conclave, Salvaterra said it's likely the cardinals won't pick a pope very quickly.

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