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Pope Benedict XVI Considers Accelerating Replacement Process

Pope Benedict XVI is considering issuing a decree that would speed up the process of appointing his replacement.

By canon law, a papal conclave starts between 15 and 20 days after the papacy becomes vacant. But as The New York Times reports, that takes into account a papal funeral.

Benedict is stepping down. The Times reports Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi said Benedict is "taking into consideration" changing the rules by decree or "Motu Proprio." the issuance of a personal document that has the ability to shift Church law.

USA Today reports:

"But, according to Vatican press office, Lombardi was vague. He said he did not know if the pope would shift the law setting the date for the conclave — but said the pope's letter might offer 'clarifications' on an unnamed subject.

"'I suspect they are still consulting with canon lawyers' on the legality of changing the conclave date, said church historian Matthew Bunson."

Benedict's resignation takes effect Feb. 28. Reuters reports the Vatican seems to want to have new Pope installed before "Palm Sunday on March 24 so he can preside at Holy Week services leading to Easter."

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