Vatican City

70 cardinals present for pope's last general audience

116 expected for conclave to begin

70 cardinals present for pope's last general audience

Vatican City, February 27 - There were about 70 cardinals at the pope's last general audience in Saint Peter's Square on Wednesday, Vatican Spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said. A total of 116 cardinals are expected to take part in the conclave to elect a new pope, which is forecast to begin in mid-March, or 15 days after the pope's formal resignation. However, Benedict XVI issued a papal decree on Monday that says cardinals can bring forward the start of the conclave if all are present.

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