VATICAN CITY — The Vatican is raising the possibility that the conclave to elect the next Pope might start earlier than March 15, the earliest date possible under current rules that require a 15-20 day waiting period after the papacy becomes vacant.
Vatican spokesman The Rev. Federico Lombardi said top officials can study the Holy See's constitution to determine whether such a rule change is possible.
The 15-20 day rule is in place to allow time for the arrival in Rome of "all those [cardinals] who are absent."
But Lombardi noted that the cardinals already know that this pontificate will end on Feb. 28 and can get to Rome in plenty of time.
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He said the Vatican rules are open to interpretation and that "this is a question that people are discussing."
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