According to Vatican spokesman Lombardi, Pope Benedict XVI. is considering to issue a modification of the electoral code before his resignation. An earlier start of the conclave could thus be possible.
Pope Benedict XVI. is apparently considering “clarifications” to the upcoming March election of his successor. One point might, among other things, be the open question of whether the Papal Election should start before the March 15. “The Pope is going to verify the possibility of publishing a Motu proprio (decree) in the coming days,” Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said Wednesday in an interview with journalists.
Thus, certain points to the conclave, including the date and the liturgical sequence, could be clarified. However, Lombardi did not wanted to commit himself, wether the beginning of the conclave might be an issue in such a document: “I do not know,” said Father Lombardi, “if it would be necessary or appropriate to make a clarification on the issue of the time of the conclave.”
15 to 20 days waiting period provided
The conclave for the election of the head of the Catholic Church could start even before the usual deadline of 15 days after the beginning of the Sede Vacante (“empty chair Petri”), Lombardi said on Saturday. The period of 15 to 20 days to the beginning of the Conclave will give the voting Cardinals time, to travel to Rome from around the world. Since Benedict had earlier announced his resignation, the 117 voting Cardinals could adjust on an early arrival.
Usually the Cardinals of the Curia in Rome, would have to wait 15 days, according to the Vatican rules, for the other Cardinals from around the world, the Vatican historian Ambrogio Piazzoni explained on Wednesday in Rome. “This may mean, however, that they no longer have to wait once the other Cardinals are in Rome.” For this reason, the election of a pope could begin well before March 15. For each of the Cardinal electors attendance is mandatory, unless an illness prevents him from doing so.
Feast of Saint Joseph with the new Pope?
A beginning around the 10th of March and an agreement on the new Pope within three or four days, would allow the new head of Church to accede his Pontificate before the Feast of St. Joseph, the most important religious holiday of the current Lent, reported Vatican insiders. This would allow the new Pope to prepare for the Holy Week, also the Cardinals could be back in their dioceses for Easter.
In 2007, Benedict had changed the rules for the Conclave. Thus the threshold for the election of a Pope is again a qualified three-quarters majority of all the votes cast, regardless of the number of ballots. Benedict is now into a “harmonization” of various documents to the conclave, Lombardi said. He got time for his decisions until 7:59 P.m. on February 28 . Benedict resigns on that day at 8:00 p.m..