Sabato, 22 Settembre 2018
VATICAN CITY

Pope may hold conclave sooner, in time for Holy Week

English
© ANSA

Vatican City, February 20 - Pope Benedict XVI may
issue a document on the rules of the conclave to elect his
successor before he steps down as pontiff, Vatican spokesman
Father Federico Lombardi said Wednesday.
Lombardi said Benedict may issue a 'motu proprio', a
document that popes can use to make changes to Church law or
procedure.
The spokesman did not rule out the possibility that the
motu proprio would concern changes so that the conclave could
take place earlier than mid-March.
The Vatican initially said that the conclave would not take
place until 15 to 20 days after Benedict leaves the position on
February 28, in accordance with Church rules.
But at the weekend Lombardi said the conclave may start
earlier, given that the pope has not died, but has quit.
Many cardinals are already in Rome and they have begun
informal talks about what sort of person the next pope should
be.
Some clergymen want the conclave to be held earlier to
reduce the amount of time the world's 1.2 billion Catholics have
to spend without a leader.
According to reports, some cardinals are hoping to
accelerate proceedings in order to have a new pope installed
before Palm Sunday on March 24, so he can preside over the Holy
Week services leading up to Easter.
"I don't know whether he (Benedict) will deem it necessary
or opportune to provide clarifications about the issue of when
the conclave starts," said Lombardi.
The spokesman said Benedict was considering drafting a motu
proprio to harmonize two different documents that govern the
period when the papacy is vacant - usually because the previous
pontiff has died - and the specifics of the conclave.
A Roman scholar on Wednesday suggested that Benedict has
the authority to shorten the period of time before the conclave
of cardinals meets to elect his successor, for one occasion
only.
Benedict could issue a one-time decree that would apply
only to the upcoming conclave, said Cesare Mirabelli, president
emeritus of Italy's Constitutional Court.
This would be "an ad hoc measure to shorten the time" which
Vatican law says is needed to bring together the conclave, says
Mirabelli, who is also a professor of ecclesiastical law at the
University of Rome Tor Vergata.
The current situation is "exceptional" because a pope has
not retired in roughly 600 years and so in this case, cardinals
have been given an unusual amount of notice that a replacement
must be found, says Mirabelli.
Some 117 cardinals under the age of 80 will be eligible to
enter the conclave, which will be held in the Sistine Chapel
under Michelangelo's famous frescoed ceiling.
Just over half of the cardinals who will vote, 61, are
European, and Italy is the country with most electors in this
conclave, 28.
Benedict named 67 of those cardinals and his much-loved
predecessor, John Paul II, appointed the rest.
Benedict is a doctrinal conservative and so was John Paul.
This factor has influenced the makeup of the college of
cardinals and experts say it is likely to lead to the next pope
being a conservative regarding issues such as ending the ban on
women becoming priests and greater acceptance of homosexuality.
The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI has thrown new light
on the papacy, Cardinal Walter Kasper said in an interview with
Italy's leading newspaper Corriere della Sera Wednesday.
Kasper, chairman of the Pontifical Council for Promoting
Christian Unity, told the daily that "the essence, the nature of
the ministry given by Jesus cannot be changed" but "what has
changed is the sacred aura around the papacy," that has been
slightly lost over the last two centuries.
The role of the pope "needs to be rethought," said the
79-year-old cardinal.
With the increasing secularization of Europe and many of
the world's Catholics "on the other side of the world in the
southern hemisphere," for Kasper the next pope should be a man
of "charisma who knows how to draw the faithful.
A true shepherd of the people, but also a pastor who can
lead the Church".
The next papacy will be "a new challenge," he said.
As excitement mounts over electing a new pope, tourism is
surging in Rome, with bookings from France, Germany and
elsewhere in Italy leading the way.
Expedia.fr reported a 26% rise in French bookings, a 60%
hike from Germany and a 115% spike from Italy.
The surge started "in the 24 hours after the pontiff
announced his resignation" on February 11, the site said.
But for those who cannot be in Rome, the Vatican Television
Centre (CTV) has said virtually every moment of Pope Benedict
XVI's last day as pontiff will be recorded for posterity.
The highlight will be when he leaves the Vatican by
helicopter to take up temporary residence at the pontifical
summer residence at Castel Gandolfo near Rome.
"The departure will be a historic event," said Father
Edoardo Maria Vigano', CTV's director.
Vigano' said the details of precisely how much of the day
would be recorded without invading too much Benedict's privacy
had not yet been settled.
Benedict will move back to a monastery inside the Vatican
when renovation work is complete in a few months.

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