BETHESDA, Md. (WUSA9) -- Millions of people around the world, Catholic and non-Catholic, are watching the mysterious process of picking the next Pope.
At the Woods Academy in Bethesda, school kids are engaged in what they're calling a "Sweet Sistine." It's their own exercise in "Papal bracketology."
Give a group of young American Catholics a minute and some will likely raise questions about the process. "It's kind of sexist that (women) should not be able to be Pope," says student Caitlin Grant. "Because we should have equal rights as men."
The 8th grade religion students donned the Cardinal's red caps, studied some of the Papabile, the potential Popes and then engaged in their own conclave in the chapel.
They failed to pick one of their favorite teachers on the first ballot. "You are starting to think about who is electable and who you like," teacher Chris Maloney told them.
They quickly figured out the fine art of compromise that seems such a challenge for Washington politicians. "I chose as supreme pontiff Linda Cardinal Hardy," 2/3s of the students said on the second ballot.
Never heard of her? She's a favorite female guidance counselor and religion teacher at Woods, an independent Catholic school.
It took the kids just a few minutes, but the Cardinals are likely to take longer -- but not too long. The last papal conclave to last more than five days was in 1831.
"I just love the idea that these guys are thinking critically," said teacher Maloney.
And if it has to be a man, Caitlin Grant favors the African frontrunner, Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana.
For up-to-the-minute updates from Bruce Johnson, follow him on Twitter @brucejohnson9 as well as at wusa9.com. To get papal text alerts on your phone, text the word POPE to 25543.