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Pope Benedict Resigns; State of the Union Preview

Aired February 12, 2013 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: Jumping right in today with something that hasn`t happened in nearly 600 years: the pope is resigning. Pope Benedict XVI made the announcement yesterday. He said the reason is his "advanced age". He`ll turn 86 in April. He will officially resign at the end of this month. There are three parts of the story we want to look at. First, popes in general. The title comes from the Latin word for father, and the tradition goes back nearly 2,000 years. In that time, there have been 265 popes. Christianity is the world`s largest religion. Roman Catholics are the largest group of Christians, and the pope is the head of the Roman Catholic Church. So, the person who holds this title, is a major religious leader. He is also a world leader. The pope is the head of state for Vatican City, the world`s smallest country.

Second, who is this pope? Who is Benedict XVI? His birth name is Joseph Ratzinger. When someone is elected a new pope, he traditionally chooses a new name. Cardinal Ratzinger picked Benedict. He was born in Germany in 1927, became a priest in 1951, was made a cardinal in 1977, and in 2005 he was elected pope. He`ll stop being pope in February, 28th, at 8 p.m. local time in Rome.

So, what happens next? The college of cardinals, leaders in the Catholic Church will get together for something called a conclave -- that`s where they all elect a new pope. They each cast ballots, and if someone gets two thirds of the vote, plus one more that person becomes the new pope. If no one gets that many votes the first time, then the cardinals vote again. A spokesman from the Vatican said the elections would probably be sometime in March. He expected there to be a new pope by Easter.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It`s a report card and it`s a prognostication. It is the president saying, this is what I would like to do in the coming year.

The State of the Union is essentially a homework assignment from the framers of the Constitution to every president who`s lived ever since. The Constitution tells them that they periodically must tell Congress how the country is doing. If a president wants to lean hard to one side or hard to the other side, then you might see more political purpose in the State of the Union, although often it`s just a general sense of let`s move this direction.

The whole thing is a huge pageant. The president comes walking in, escorted by members of the House and Senate, the Sergeant of Arms announces him and everybody stands, and cheers. And there`s quite a crowd there. Everyone has assigned seating, right behind the president you will find the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, and the President of the Senate, which will be the vice president of the United States, and then the two parties generally, generally stay on their side of the isle, although recently they started sitting with each other to suggest that they can get along a little bit better than most of us think. You typically have the Supreme Court there, the joint chiefs of staff. They are representing the military, and the First Lady will also be there, usually with some sort of special guest, in recent years. That will illustrate some point the president is making.

One of the coolest parts of the presidential address is always the missing cabinet member and fearing out who it`s going to be. One member of the cabinet always has to be somewhere else, in case something terrible happened, so presumably, you could have the secretary of agriculture sitting somewhere thinking about hog futures, and suddenly he is the president of the United States, which would be a huge shock to him.

Since the 1960s, the opposition has also issued a response. That is someone selected by the opposing party to stand up and refute what the president said or say, perhaps, we have different ideas about how the government should be conducting itself and where we should be going in the coming year.


AZUZ: The State of the Union speech is tonight. Special coverage starts on CNN at 7 p.m. Eastern, the president speech will start at 9. And the Republican response will be after he finishes. Before we hear what the president has to say, we`d like to hear what you would like him to say. Tell us on our blog today at

Our next, we want you to check out the storm chaser video we shot Sunday in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The state was hit by several storms, and look at this tornado. Part of the severe weather. The storm chasers pull up to the area that the tornado just ripped across. You can actually see some of the damage that it had just left behind. The Hattiesburg mayor said one good thing is that this twister hit on a Sunday, which meant most of the buildings that were damaged were empty. We`ve got a video that explains how tornadoes form, where they are most likely to show up. You could check that out in the resources box on our home page.

October, 2009. U.S. Army post in Afghanistan. 53 American soldiers were attacked by an estimated 300 Taliban fighters. Staff Sergeant Clint Romesha was there. More than half the Americans were killed or wounded, including Romesha. But he led counterattacks against the Taliban forces that helped the Americans regain control of parts of the base. It helped them recover comrades who were killed or wounded, and it gave them time to call for support. Because of his actions that day. Sergeant Romesha is the newest recipient of the Medal of Honor. It is the military`s highest decoration given to troops who risk their lives while going above and beyond the call of duty. Clint Romesha is the fourth living person to earn the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan or Iraq.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today`s "Shoutout" goes out to the social studies teachers and students at Lincoln Middle School in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Which U.S. president was born on February 12, 1809? You know what to do. Was it Thomas Jefferson, Ulysses Grant, Andrew Jackson or Abraham Lincoln? You`ve got three seconds, go!

Today marks 204 years since Abraham Lincoln was born. That`s your answer and that`s your "Shoutout."


AZUZ: January 1st, 1863, America was entering its third year of a devastating civil war. President Abraham Lincoln decided to broaden the goals of the war beyond the battlefield and take historic action on the question of slavery. He picked up a pen and signed the document known as the Emancipation Proclamation. It would become one of the most powerful presidential actions in American history. The proclamation said that "all persons held as slaves within any State of designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free."

Some historians estimate these words freed as many as 4 million slaves. Some former slaves in occupied territories then joined Union Forces, the liberated became liberators. It also changed the character of the Civil War. The Union was now fighting to create a new United States, one without slavery. Historians have called the proclamation the first step toward freedom for African Americans. It did not completely end slavery in the U.S., it technically freed the slaves only in the Confederacy, the states that were fighting the Union. But the proclamation tipped the scales in favor of those who wanted slavery to end. In the years and decades that followed what became known as the civil rights amendments, the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution freed all slaves, gave them the same legal rights enjoyed by white Americans and gave black men the right to vote. The document that started it all, the original Emancipation Proclamation, is kept in the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

When we reported last week to the U.S. Post Offices planning end Saturday delivery, 53 percent of the students on our blog said this will matter. Allen says he has checks, college applications and family letters in the mail. Meghan writes her boyfriend is a Marine, "the only way I will soon be able to talk to him is through letters and mail." Lisa calls this "... no big deal to people of the 21st century" who email, text or call if something needs to be shared. But Priscilla argues, "It`s not the same as a tangible letter." It`s harder to keep a treasured letter when all it is, is a bit of data on computer."

Walking a dog -- not that interesting. Walking a horse -- getting better. A dog walking a horse, jackpot. Now, the pooch is persisting in this Youtube video, but the mare just wants to mosey. So it looks like our main event is a good old-fashioned tug of war. You think the horse would rein supreme, but it`s been settled with the walking companion, and obviously, wants to unleash its energy. So, eventually, the horse does give in, and let the dog dictate the pace, even if it did this start this whole thing of as a naysayer.

All right, it`s time for us to walk off. Teachers, we want to hear your thoughts on today`s show, on any show. Go to our homepage, look for the feedback link in the resources box. We`ll see everyone back here tomorrow for more CNN STUDENT NEWS.