The Vatican finds itself in a situation that hasn’t occurred in more than six centuries. Pope Benedict is the first pope in more than 600 years to voluntarily resign, instead of passing away during the commission of his duties. The revelation that Benedict would resign, effective February 28 has drawn sharp rebukes from some portions of the populace.
This nearly unprecedented occurrence has left the Catholic church trying to staunch a tidal wave of reaction as quickly as possible. Now the Vatican says it believes it can actually hold conclave earlier than was first expected. While church law has been that Conclave could not occur until 15 to 20 days have passed after the death of the Pope.
NBC News reports that this time frame is to allow for Cardinals to arrive in Rome after the unexpected death of the Church’s leader. Because the world knows when the office will be empty this time around, those same Cardinals have had plenty of time to prepare for travel.
Vatican spokesman, the reverend Federico Lombardi talked to CBS News about potential rules changes, saying:
“This is a question that people are discussing. 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 move up the start of the conclave”
Moving up the time frame is important to the Catholic Church because of their holy week beginning on March 24. Easter Sunday falls on March 31 this year and in order to oversea this important religious holiday, the new Pope would have to be installed by March 17.
Will Vatican Conclave eventually be carried out early. The church certainly seems to want to make sure that they do indeed have their new Pope in by Easter. Whether will be comfortable going against established Papal law remains to be seen.