The Vatican is considering holding a papal conclave earlier than planned, after repeated calls from cardinals, as Pope Benedict XVI will be stepping down on 28 February.
Church officials want a successor to be in place before the start of Holy Week on 24 March, which is the most important event in the Christian calendar.
Under current rules, the vote cannot be held before 15 March, to give cardinals enough time to travel to Rome, but now the Vatican is looking at the possibility of changing the rule, the BBC reports.
According to the Holy See's constitution, a 15-20 day waiting period must be observed after the papacy becomes vacant.
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said that the rule is in place to allow 'all those [cardinals] who are absent' sufficient time to make the journey to Rome, adding that the prospect of bringing forward the date had been raised by a number of cardinals.
He said that all the cardinals had enough time to plan their trip as they already knew when Pope Benedict was stepping down.
He added that some of the 117 Cardinal electors from around the world who will choose the next pope in a secret ballot in the Sistine Chapel are expected to begin arriving in Rome as early as next week, the report said.
As soon as there is a quorum, they will decide on a date to begin their conclave. In order to be elected, the new pope will need a majority of two thirds plus one vote, it added. (ANI)