WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA9) -- Pope Benedict leaves the papacy at the end of February and within 15 days of that the Cardinals of the Catholic church will gather in Rome to begin the selection of his successor.
I asked Father Thomas Reese, noted scholar with the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, if Cardinals are allowed to campaign for the church's highest position.
He told me their friends among the College of Cardinals will campaign for them-try to solicit votes among the other Cardinals; but there won't be any campaign signs or candidate debates.
He added that while there will be talk of the next Pope coming from Africa or Latin America where the church has experienced its most growth, the majority of Cardinals are from Europe and its more likely he will come from there.
Reese said a new Pope should be in place within 2-3 days after the Cardinals begin meeting..before Easter.
Can American Catholics expect any major changes with a new Pope? No, he says that while a new Pontiff could be more outgoing and have a bigger personality than Benedict-Church teachings and positions on world issues won't change.