.- The conclave to choose the next Pope will likely begin between March 9th and 11th.
A Vatican official speaking on background to CNA said Feb. 24 that the dates being discussed for the start of the conclave to elect Benedict XVI’s successor are somewhere between March 9th and 11th.
The possibility of foregoing the normal 15-day waiting period for opening a conclave has been raised by Pope Benedict announcing that he will resign on Feb. 28, giving everyone 17 days advanced notice of his intention.
The cardinals are not able to choose a date earlier than March 15 as the rules currently stand, but Pope Benedict will publish a declaration tomorrow clearing the way for an accelerated timeline.
Before the conclave begins, the cardinals will hold a series of General Congregations, at which they will take up any administrative items, discuss the needs of the Church and talk about who can best respond to those needs as the next Pope.
During the conclave, the 117 cardinals who are under 80 years-old will gather behind the locked doors of the Sistine Chapel and determine who the Church’s next Pope will be.
If a new Pope is elected, the faithful waiting in St. Peter’s Square will see white smoke coming from the chapel’s chimney, if a vote is inconclusive the smoke will be black.