Deadline for Conclave: Vatican wants earlier Pope-election

The conclave to choose the successor to Pope Benedict XVI. may take place earlier than previously announced. The Cardinals have plenty of time, even before 15 To arrive in March, said a Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi. The verfication process whether this is in accordance with the Vatican’s Constitution is underway.


Rome – Originally, the conclave to choose the successor to Pope Benedict XVI. was scheduled for March 15 – perhaps it is already held earlier. The Vatican constitution was under exemination to whether this is possible, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said in Rome.

Pope Benedict XVI. earlier this week announced his withdrawal from the Holy See at the end of the month. The successor  should be assigned before Easter. Normally, the conclave, the gathering of cardinals eligible to vote, meet 15 to 20 days after the beginning of the interregnum (“empty chair of Peter”).

The period of 15 days will make sure that the cardinals from around the world have plenty of time to get there, but the Cardinals already knew that Benedict’s pontificate was ending on February 28, and have enough time to check in. The rules of the Vatican allowed room for interpretation., and this issue is currently being discussed.

Who will become the new Pope is to anybody’s guess. Around ten clerics are among the favorites, including the Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze, Peter Turkson of Ghana and the Canadian Marc Ouellet.

Benedict’s resignation announcement came as a surprise. The reason he had given his advanced age.

The head of the Catholic Church is elected by the conclave by secret ballot. Pope Benedict XVI. defined in 2007 that in the future there is always  required a two-thirds majority. Until then, a rule established by John Paul II in 1996, definded that the two-thirds majority was required only to a possible 33rd Ballot. Benedict then decided that after the 33rd Ballot there must runoff elections between the two strongest candidates, until one of the candidates receives a two-thirds majority and is declared new Pope.

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