Pope considers new election rules and date


Pope Benedict XVI may enact a new law governing the upcoming conclave to elect a new pope amid continued uncertainty over when the voting can begin.

The Vatican’s spokesman said Wednesday he didn’t know for sure if the law would address the timing of the conclave following the pope’s Feb. 28 resignation.

The current law says cardinals should wait 15 days after the papacy becomes vacant before launching a conclave, to allow cardinals to arrive in Rome. This makes March 15 the presumed start. That delay, however, assumed a papal death and funeral. In this case, most if not all the cardinals will already be in Rome for Benedict’s final general audience Feb. 27 and his farewell meeting with cardinals on Feb. 28.

“The document says that the cardinals present in Rome must wait 15 days for the arrival of the others,” noted Ambrogio Piazzoni, the vice prefect of the Vatican library. “That can mean that if the cardinals all arrive before the 15 days there is no need to wait.”