Exciting time for everyone whether Catholic or not because most people only see one pope elected in the church I am young and this will be the second one. The election of new pope may happen sooner than March 15 according to the Vatican even though the rule requires 15 to 20 day waiting period after the papacy vacancy. Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi said the rules are open for interpretation and any change to the law would have meet the approval of the pope before he leaves the office. However if Vatican officials determine its a question of interpreting existing laws then the college of cardinals on the first day of the papal vacancy can discuss moving up the conclave. The 15 to 20 day waiting period is to allow all the cardinals to arrive in Rome, but since the circumstances are unusual the cardinals already know the pope will resign Feb. 28 giving them plenty of time to take part in a conclave.
The date of the conclave’s start is important since the beginning of Holy Week March 24 with Palm Sunday and ends with Easter March 31. In order to elect a pope in time for one of the most important week on the church calendar the new pope would have to be installed by Sunday March 17 because of the strong tradition to hold installation Mass on Sunday. Many questions have arisen since the pope announced his retirement on Feb. 11, the first to do so in 600 years. The unique problem here is how to proceed given that usually the plans follow the papal death with a period between papacies are based on this process. Cardinal Franc Rode who will participate in the conclave said that right now the Vatican is not prepared and has not had the time to predict, strategize, plan or pick candidates yet but hopes everything will be in place in two or three weeks.
More details have emerged about Benedict’s final public audience and plans for retirements according to Lombardi who says that 35,000 people have requested tickets for his final general audience on Feb. 27 in St. Peter’s Square. He continued to explain that Benedict will spend two months at the papal summer retreat with him immediately after his abdication until his retirement home is finished- a converted monastery inside Vatican walls. Then he will return to the Vatican no longer as pope around the end of April beginning of May. As whether the pope would meet with his successor or participate in his installation Mass, Lombardi said that both issues are not resolved at this time.