Posted Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, at 10:54 AM
A view of the balcony from where the Pope addresses his speeches at Castel Gandolfo's Apostolic Palace in the village of Castel Gandolfo
Photo by Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images
Under the current system of papal succession, the Roman Catholic Church's cardinals need to wait at least 15 days after the pope resigns or dies to begin voting on his replacement. With Pope Benedict XVI's resignation set to become official on Feb. 28, that would mean that the cardinals' conclave wouldn't start before March 15.
Benedict, however, appears eager to get things moving. Rev. Federico Lombardi told reporters yesterday that the soon-to-be-former pope is considering changing the Vatican's constitution to allow a vote sometime in the first two weeks after he steps down. The reason? In short, the Vatican seems to be recognizing the fact that the cardinals got a head start on their work after Benedict gave two-plus weeks notice earlier this month, something that is more than a little unusual given a pope hasn't resigned in about six centuries.