VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI may enact a new law governing the upcoming conclave to elect a new pope amid continued uncertainty over when the voting can begin.
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Wednesday that he didn’t know for sure if the new law under consideration would address the timing of the conclave following Benedict’s Feb. 28 resignation. He said it would contain some “clarifications" on certain points. But given the crush of interest surrounding the conclave date, it seems only natural it might clarify the issue.
The current law says cardinals should wait 15 days after the papacy becomes vacant before launching a conclave to allow all eligible cardinals to arrive in Rome, making March 15 the presumed start. That delay, however, assumed a papal death and funeral. In this case, the cardinals already know that this pontificate will end Feb. 28 and can get to Rome in plenty of time.
Some canonists and scholars have said the current rules allow for some wiggle room on the 15-day wait given that most if not all the cardinals will already be in Rome for Benedict’s final general audience Feb. 27 and his farewell meeting with cardinals on Feb. 28.
— The Associated Press