Speaking via a Skype connection from Rome, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick talks about Pope Francis with students at St. Francis International School in Silver Spring. The students in the foreground were dressed as cardinals for an upcoming school play about the conclave.
Speaking via a Skype connection from Rome, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick talks about Pope Francis with students at St. Francis International School in Silver Spring. The students in the foreground were dressed as cardinals for an upcoming school play about the conclave.
From the Vatican, less than 24 hours after the election of Pope Francis, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the archbishop emeritus of Washington, "skyped" with elementary school students from St. Francis International School in Silver Spring, relating his own personal account of the historic event.

Students were able to ask questions of Cardinal McCarrick, who at 82 was not eligible to vote in the conclave, but was in Rome during the papal election and the days leading up to it. Cardinal McCarrick voted in the 2005 conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI.

When asked what kind of leader he believed Pope Francis would be, Cardinal McCarrick said, "The Lord will use him in many ways. He loves God and loves people...He is not afraid. He worries about the poor and will make sure the Gospel is heard by everyone."

He said the new Holy Father will take the lessons he has learned all his life - just as the students will take the teachings they learn in school - and use those lessons to help others.

"Because he's learned them well," the cardinal said.

Looking back to 2005, the cardinal was asked what he took from the experience of electing Pope Benedict XVI eight years ago.

"It was a great opportunity to see the Church working together. We all came together to see who will be the best man. We talked to each other. We prayed with each other and great things were learned from that," the cardinal said.

He said the cardinals prepare for a conclave with much prayer. "We pray, pray a lot," said Cardinal McCarrick, adding that the new pontiff will rely on the prayers of the faithful too. "He has to look at the whole world and see where he can help. If there is a war, an earthquake or (famine), the pope is a great help" and leads people to God.

A group of 13 fifth grade boys were dressed as cardinals, in red cassocks (borrowed from Sacred Heart Parish, Bowie) and red zucchettos (which were actually Jewish bar-mitzvah yamakas that school principal Tobias Harkleroad had ordered from Brooklyn) for a "conclave play" they plan to stage on Friday.

"You look much younger, and I bet you're better athletes than we (the real cardinals) are," Cardinal McCarrick joked to the boys in his video chat.

Before saying goodbye to the 482 students at St. Francis International School, the cardinal said he hoped he could encourage Pope Francis to visit the school "one of these days."

He also asked the students to pray for the new pope, telling them, "How can you make this a better world is the most important job of the pope. You don't do it alone, you do it with God's help."