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Pope may speed up conclave

Feb. 20, 2013 at 5:16 PM
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VATICAN CITY, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- One of Benedict XVI's last acts as pope may be an edict allowing an early vote on his successor, Vatican officials say.

A spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the pope may make changes to two edicts issued by Pope John Paul II, Benedict's predecessor, the BBC reported. One involves the timing of a conclave to elect the next pope, the other the conduct of the conclave.

Under the current regulations, a conclave would not begin until March 15. Benedict, the first pope to resign in 600 years, leaves office Feb. 28.

The scheduling gives cardinals time to travel to Rome after a pope's death, but in this case the 117 eligible to vote have advance notice. This year, Holy Week begins March 24 with Palm Sunday, and Vatican officials would like to have a new pope in place before the most important season of the Christian year.

Benedict has said he plans to take no part in public life once he leaves office, instead engaging in prayer and reflection in a Vatican convent.

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