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Sat May 28 00:07:37 SAST 2016

Conclave to decide next pope to start after March 15: Vatican

Reuters | 13 February, 2013 14:35
White smoke rises from the chimney above the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, indicating a new pope has been elected, in this file still image taken from video shot on April 19, 2005.
Image by: REUTERS TV / REUTERS

The conclave to decide the successor to Pope Benedict will start as early as March 15, the Vatican said on Wednesday.

The conclave, when cardinals gather to elect a new pope, will start between 15 and 20 days from when the papal seat is vacated on Feb. 28, Vatican Spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told a news conference.

Pope Benedict stunned the Church on Monday when he announced the first papal abdication in centuries. Lombardi said Catholics should not be disoriented by Benedict's decision.

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