msnbc | February 16, 2013
>>> reports out of rome today suggest catholics may get a new pope sooner than they thought. a secret conclave of cardinals was supposed to condition convenient between 15 and 20 days after pope benedict steps down at the end of the month. the vote could be held earlier than planned. joining me now from rome , nbc news vapt cannon list george weigel . it is very good to see you. as we get to the process of selecting the new pope, how soon can that begin and do you hear these reports as well that it may go earlier than expected?
>> i do. i prankly think that's a very wise idea. the 15 to 20-day provision in the current constitution that govern it is election of a pope, was created to allow time for a i did any tied funeral mass , a period of mourning for the deceased pope, and a set of meetings among the cardinals and then the enclosure of the conclave. of course, there is no funeral this time. so when the seat becomes vacant at 8:00 p.m . rome time february 28 , i would imagine, indeed i would hope, that about a week would pass before the conclave would be enclosed and the voting process would begin. this is simply a matter of amending the apostolic constitution which is the pope can do or he can assign the authority to the dean of the college of cardinals to do that himself.
>> so we have welfare days or so leading up to february 28 . what happens to benedict in this period and immediately afterwards, george ?
>> reporter: he's continuing his normal daily routine. tomorrow morning at moon here behind me in st. peter's square he will have his week lly address to what i expect to be tens of thousands of people pack flood the square. the vatican bureaucracy and the pope are going on retreat beginning tomorrow night and until next saturday morning. and then it will be just a few brief days before the pope's advocation takes effect. he's already announced he will go to the papal summer residence southeast of rome for an unspecific period of time before returning to live quietly and privately in what has been up until now a convent of cloistered sisters on the back side of the vatican at the end of the vatican garden.
>> george , as you well know, there have been increasing demands to modernize this church. do you think pope benedict 's successor will yield to these calls for any sort of structural reform? does the fact that this pope -- is doing something that was last under resigning as opposed to dying while in the papacy, does that mean that he's giving license for everyone to think differently than what has become the norm?
>> well, alex, as you know, and as i think most people realize, the change of pope is not like a change of president or change of governor. what the catholic church teach cess not a matter of policy. it is a matter of settled belief. i'm hearing discussed quite openly here in terms of change is the imperative change of reforming the roman bringing the papacy into the 21st century and communications world. so that the pope's mission as a pastor and evangelist can be much more effective than it often is now with a rather clotted bureaucratic process and a very, very slow communications process.
>> and you talk about the bureaucracy. in pact the pope talked about internal rivalries, george , that defiled the face of the church. what do you mean?
>> well, catholic church is a human institution. there are different people with different ideas of how things should be done. and different national and ethnic loyalties. that's all part of the mix of catholic life . there should be nothing surprising about it. what has been missing, many feel, in this roman curia , vatican bureaucracy is a strong cardinal secretary of state to temper those rivalries and get everybody moving in the same direction.
>> all right. george weigel , many thanks for your insight. appreciate