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The Vatican raised the possibility Saturday that the conclave to elect the next pope might start sooner than March 15, the ...
earliest date possible under current rules. (Feb. 16)
Tags:ap,Associated Press,pope benedict
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DURATION:-----------------------------------------SHOTLIST:AP - AP Clients OnlyVatican City - Feb. 161. Wide of St. Peters2. Wide of Pope 3. Graphic of chapel4. Vatican spokesman5. Wide of popeVOICE-OVER SCRIPT:The Catholic Church may not be without a pope for long.The Vatican is now hinting that it might start the conclave that chooses the next pontiff before March 15th.Pope Benedict is retiring effective february 28th and church rules state there must be a 15 to 20 day waiting period after the papcy becomes vacant.(NAT SOUND Italian)However church leaders say those rules were put in place to give Cardinals time to arrive and they say if all the cardinals are already there there's no reason waste any time.In fact the Vatican spokesman says they may begin as soon as March first.The date of the conclave's start is important because Holy Week begins March 24 and there is an urgency to get someone in place before the Easter celebrations.SIGOUT - Name/Associated Press