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Vatican may hold conclave to elect the next pope early

The conclave to elect the pope's successor is not supposed to occur for 15 to 20 days after the current pope steps down.

Pope benedict xvi christmas 12 25 11Enlarge
(Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images)

The Vatican is considering calls to hold the conclave to elect Pope Benedict XVI's successor early, despite the rule that the vote cannot occur for 15 to 20 days after the current head of the Church steps down. 

However, Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi said that the rules aren't quite so set in stone, and that "this is a question that people are discussing," according to the Associated Press.

"It is possible that church authorities can prepare a proposal to be taken up by the cardinals on the first day after the papal vacancy" to speed up the conclave, Lombardi said.

The current waiting period rule is in place to allow all the cardinals enough time to make their way to Rome for the vote in the event of a pope's death, BBC News reported.

However, the cardinals have had plenty of notice this time around to know that Benedict is stepping down, making the waiting period seem perfunctory.

There is also the stress to have the new pope installed by Easter, which falls during the week of March 24 and is considered the most important date in the church's calendar, according to the BBC. 

The pontiff will make one of his final public appearances tomorrow. After he steps down on February 28, he will spend a couple of months at the papal summer seat in Castel Gandolfo near Rome before moving to a Vatican monastery, according to the Herald Sun

More from GlobalPost: Retiring Pope Benedict XVI tells priests he will be "hidden to the world"

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/culture-lifestyle/world-religion/130216/vatican-conclave-elect-next-pope-early