Conclave to Begin in Early March

Pope Benedict XVI has cleared the way for an early start to the Conclave in which the College of Cardinals will choose his successor.

The Catholic News Agency (CNA) is reporting that the Holy Father issued a motu proprio yesterday that will allow cardinals to bypass the 15-day waiting period currently required by Church law.

“The primary item that will be addressed is the timing of the conclave,” CNA reports. “John Paul II’s Universi Dominici Gregis established that it should not be sooner than 15 days after the death of the Pope, but the case of an abdication with advanced notice was not foreseen. There are also housekeeping items such as securing the Pope’s belongings and other points of procedure.”

The 15-day waiting period was in place to facilitate the travel of the cardinals from around the world to Rome; however, most of the 116 cardinals who are under 80 years of age are already arriving in the Eternal City.

The Casa Santa Marta, where the cardinals stay during the conclave, will officially open its doors on March 1 with the conclave to begin as early as March 9.

The cardinals will have plenty of work to do before the conclave begins. They are scheduled to hold a series of General Congregations to discuss administrative duties as well as the needs of the Church at this time and who might best respond to those needs as the next Pope.

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