Vatican could change rules for early vote on new Pope

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said officials could study the Holy See's constitution to determine whether they could change rules that would allow an earlier vote on the new Pope.

There is currently a rule in place that requires a 15 to 20 day waiting period after the papacy becomes vacant.

Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation. Credit: Reuters

Lombardi said cardinals already know that this pontificate will end on February 28 and can get to Rome in plenty of time.

He said the Vatican rules are open to interpretation and that "this is a question that people are discussing."

Read: The runners and riders to replace Pope Benedict XVI.

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Pope thankful for 'prayers'

The Pope has made his first appearance at St Peter's Square window since his resignation announcement and thanked the faithful for their "prayers and support."