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Selection of new pope may happen sooner than expected

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LONDON -

Pope Benedict the 16th has revised the rule on how his successor will be chosen. Cardinals no longer have to wait 15 days after the Pope resigns to begin voting for a new Holy Father. After Benedict steps down on Thursday, cardinals can decide to move up the secret ceremony to elect a pope, known as the conclave

The Vatican would like a new Pope in place before Easter week begins on March 24th. That means the new Pope must be installed a week earlier.

When the voting starts, Scottish Cardinal Keith O'Brien will be noticeably absent. The Vatican confirms O'Brien resigned amid allegations he behaved inappropriately with other priests 30 years ago. O'Brien denies the accusations and says he does not want the allegations to be a distraction.

Some tourists at the Vatican say the new allegations are another blemish for the church.

Pope Benedict also met Monday with the elderly cardinals who conducted a probe into the leak of Vatican Documents. The outgoing pope has decided the details of that investigation will not be shared with the cardinals or the media ahead of the conclave.

With O'Brien out, 115 Cardinals will elect the new Pope.

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