02/15/2013 07:16 pm ET

Table Talk: Pope Benedict XVI's Resignation

This week's Family Dinner Table Talk, from HuffPost and The Family Dinner book:

This week, a surprising announcement came from the Vatican: Pope Benedict XVI, leader of the Catholic Church and its 1.2 billion followers, will step down at the end of February.

Benedict, who was born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger and became Pope in April 2005, said he was stepping down because of his "advanced age." He is the first Pope to resign since Gregory XII, who left office in 1415.

To get a sense of exactly how much the world has changed since then, the current Pope started tweeting from @Pontifex last year, whereas when Gregory XII was the leader of the Church, Johann Gutenberg’s printing press hadn’t been invented yet.

In March, the search for Benedict's replacement will begin with a process called the Papal Conclave. High-ranking members of the Church called Cardinals will confer in the Sistine Chapel until two-thirds of them agree on a new Pope.

Tonight, let’s talk about the role religious leaders play in our world -- and what we believe as a family.

Questions for discussion:

  • Is your family religious?
  • What qualities do you think would make a good Pope?
  • Why are religious leaders important even in the lives of people from other religions?

In her cookbook, The Family Dinner, Laurie David talks about the importance of families making a ritual of sitting down to dinner together, and how family dinners offer a great opportunity for meaningful discussions about the day's news. "Dinner," she says, "is as much about digestible conversation as it is about delicious food."

We couldn't agree more. So HuffPost has joined with Laurie and every Friday afternoon, just in time for dinner, our editors highlight one of the most compelling news stories of the week -- stories that will spark a lively discussion among the whole family.



Pope Resignation Questions