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Alessandra Tarantino/AP

Conclave to elect next pope will begin on Tuesday

Cardinals have chosen to bring their behind-closed-doors conclave forward by three days.

Updated, 16:48

CATHOLIC CARDINALS will begin their conclave to decide the next pope of the Roman Catholic Church next Tuesday, March 12.

The decision to begin the conclave on Tuesday was made at a meeting of the 115 voting-age Cardinals this afternoon.

The decision affirms the cardinals’ wishes to hold the conclave earlier than usual, in accordance in with one of the final acts of the previous pontiff.

Church law previously dictated that the conclave had to begin 15 days after the papacy became vacant, but one of Benedict XVI’s last acts in office was to change this so that the conclave could be held earlier if all of the voting cardinals were already in Rome.

Today’s vote follows days of meetings between cardinals which have actually doubled as informal pre-conclave talks on the problems of the church, and who might best address those problems if appointed to the papacy.

Explainer: How is a new Pope chosen?

Glossary: Some of the terms you’ll hear during the Papal election

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