Venerdì, 19 Ottobre 2018

Scholar says pope could start conclave sooner


Rome, February 20 - A Roman scholar suggests that
Pope Benedict XVI has the authority to shorten the period of
time before the conclave of cardinals meets to elect his
successor, for one occasion only.
Benedict, who shocked the world last week when he announced
he would retire on February 28, 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 117-member
conclave of cardinals to elect a new pope, says Mirabelli, who
is also a professor of ecclesiastical law at the University of
Rome Tor Vergata.
At present, the conclave to elect the next pope is expected
to begin 15 to 20 days after Benedict XVI steps down on February
28, when cardinals will gather from around the world for the
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.
Traditionally, popes do not retire but instead they die in
office, triggering a sudden rush to assemble the conclave of
cardinals to elect a new pope.
For this reason, the usual waiting period of 15 to 20 days
before a conclave is assembled "could reasonably be reduced,"
said Mirabelli.
The conclave procedures for electing the next pope follow
strict guidelines to ensure that the vote is valid and remains
But cardinals have already begun informal talks about what
sort of person the next pope should be, and many are already in
Some reports have suggested the Church may want to
accelerate proceedings in order have a new pope installed before
Palm Sunday on March 24, so he can preside at the Holy Week
services leading up to Easter.
Earlier on Wednesday Vatican Spokesman Father Federico
Lombardi said Benedict may issue a document on the rules of the
conclave to elect his successor before he steps down.
Lombardi said Benedict may issue a 'motu proprio', a
document that popes can use to make minor 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.

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