Alabamians Keeping a Close Eye on Papal Election

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By Brittany Bivins

Here in Alabama, Catholics are keeping a close eye on the papal elections. That includes several congregations

across the River Region.t's the first time in 600 years a new pope has been chosen after another stepped down.

It may be an ocean away, but what happens in Rome this week will have a big impact on Catholic churches across the United States.

That includes Saint Martin of Tours in Troy, which serves about 150 families from the Pike County area.

Father Den Iriwn says he hopes the new pope will be able to communicate the church's message beyond cultural boundaries.

"Certainly someone who is international in a sense of sort of understanding where different peoples are and you know, willing to reach out to them, so that everyone feels like, this is our pope," he said.

Kelsey Burgans, a church member, says she thinks the cardinals will elect someone who can do exactly that. "Someone who is charismatic like Blessed John Paul II, but someone who is as well educated as Pope Benedict XVI, and maybe someone as funny as Cardinal Doland, too," she said.

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And for some Catholics, the historic nature of this vote makes it even more exciting. "I'm feeling pretty nervous, to tell you the truth, but excited as well, and you know, I think we're all just, can't wait for the pope to walk out on the balcony and for him to be introduced the world," said Father Iriwn.

A candidate must receive 77 votes from the cardinals to become the next pope. The conclave is expected to last at least two days.

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