Picking Popes: Special Event with Leading Papal Expert

Dr. Chris Bellitto is coming to the Diocese of Camden for a once-in-our-lifetimes event. Listen to a great interview with him by clicking the NPR logo, and then read about his visit below.

“I remember exactly where I was when it happened.”

Certain important moments are burned into our brains for life.

My father, who wasn’t yet 10 when JFK was assassinated, recalls every detail from that day.

At my childhood home, I could show you just where I was standing in 1994 when my parents told me I was going to be a big brother again.

Those instants when our world or our lives are changed forever grab hold of our memory like nothing else.

Last month, my wife Genevieve and I attended a conference in Washington called the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering, which brings together about 400 Catholics from around the country who are involved in various life & justice ministries.

A text message woke her up early on the Monday morning of the conference, and she jostled me awake.

“I just found out about a big story before you did,” she said, poking fun at my near-addiction to reading the news on Twitter.

“Oh yeah? What’s that?”

“Pope Benedict is resigning.”

“What?!” I bolted up.

Where were you when you found out about Pope Benedict’s resignation?

We turned on CNN. Like us, the reporters had lots of questions. Why did Pope Benedict make this decision? How long had he been thinking about it? What will he do when he retires? What will we call him? Has this ever happened before? How can we as church best respond? Who will be the next Pope?

What was your initial reaction?

I grabbed my phone, and started pecking out an email to Christopher Bellitto, PhD.


Just two days before, I had attended a fantastic lecture by Dr. Bellitto at the conference. A medieval historian from Kean University specializing in church and papal history, he had talked about lessons that we as the church today could learn from our two millennia of successes and failures. His dynamic style made church history engaging, relevant, and fun – I was hooked.

Who better to give a special presentation here in South Jersey on the resignation, upcoming conclave, and the future of the Church? As we wonder how this unprecedented transition will affect our faith community, there’s no better time to gather, reflect, and learn.

Dr. Bellitto said he’d be willing to come, but there was one problem. He had just returned home from Washington when his schedule filled up quickly. He became one of the media’s primary experts on the resignation, featured by the New York Times, NPR, CNN, the Atlantic Magazine, and many others. As the conclave to pick a new Pope convenes over the next couple of weeks, more and more interviews are sure to follow.

Dr. Bellitto is an engaging teacher who weaves a lived commitment to justice into his presentations.

Dr. Chris Bellitto is an engaging teacher who weaves a lived commitment to justice into his presentations. Don’t miss his visit to the Camden Diocese!

He was graciously open to squeezing us in, and we found a date that worked: Wednesday, March 27 – one night before our newly elected Pope will celebrate Holy Thursday Mass in Rome.

Please join us for this special Holy Week event, entitled “Picking Popes: Resignation, Enclave, and the Future.” It’s sure to be a fascinating and informative evening. You don’t want to miss it. Come with an open mind and plenty of questions!

Dr. Christopher Bellitto presents “Picking Popes: Resignation, Enclave, and the Future.”

Wednesday, March 27, 7:30-9:00 pm.

St. Mary’s Parish Hall

2001 Springdale Road

Cherry Hill, NJ 08003

Free admission. All are welcome. Questions? Contact Mike Jordan Laskey at 856.583.6119 or michael.laskey@camdendiocese.org


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