The conclave to choose the successor to Pope Benedict XVI. will take place 15 to 20 days after the beginning of the interregnum, after the resignation of Joseph Ratzinger on February 28. “If everything goes smoothly, it can be assumed, that the Conclave begins on the 15th of March”, the Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said on Wednesday at a press conference.
To determine the date for the beginning of the conclave, the Cardinals will meet for daily general Congregations , Lombardi reported. At these meetings, all incurred duties of the church are treated. This “Pre-Conclave” must also prepare the papal election.
In these Congregation meetings there are also permitted Cardinals aged over 80, that cannot participate in the elections. The panel is expected to include 117 cardinals. According to the Vatican, it should be clear until Easter, who will be the new pope. For the election of a pope, there are well-defined, strict rules.