The College of Cardinals, formerly styled the Sacred College of Cardinals, is the body of all cardinals of the Catholic Church. Its membership is 222, as of 14 March 2019. Cardinals are appointed by the Pope for life. Changes in life expectancy partly account for the increases in the size of the College.
Since the emergence of the College of Cardinals in the Early Middle Ages, the size of the body has historically been limited by popes, ecumenical councils, and even the College itself. The total number of cardinals from 1099 to 1986 has been about 2,900 (excluding possible undocumented 12th century cardinals and cardinals appointed during the Western Schism by pontiffs now considered to be antipopes, and subject to some other sources of uncertainty), nearly half of whom were created after 1655.
The word cardinal is derived from the Latin cardo, meaning "hinge". The office of cardinal as it is known today slowly evolved during the first millennium from the clergy of Rome. "The first time that the term cardinal appears in the Liber Pontificalis is in the biography of Pope Stephen III(IV) when in the Roman Synod of 769, it was decided that the Roman pontiff should be elected from among the deacons and cardinal priests."
In 845 the Council of Meaux "required Bishops to establish Cardinal titles or parishes in their towns and outlining districts". At the same time, the popes began referring to the cardinal priests of Rome to serves as legates and delegates within Rome at ceremonies, synods, councils, etc., as well as abroad on diplomatic missions and councils. Those who were assigned to the latter roles were given the titles of Legatus a latere (Cardinal Legate) and Missus Specialis (Special Missions).
During the pontificate of Stephen V (816-17), the three classes of the College that are present today began to form. Stephen decreed that all cardinal-bishops were bound to sing Mass on rotation at the high altar at St. Peter's Basilica, one per Sunday. The first class to form was that of the cardinal-deacons, direct theological descendants of the original seven ordained in Acts 6, followed by the cardinal-priests, and finally, the cardinal-bishops.
The College played an integral part in various reforms within the Church as well, as early as the pontificate of Pope Leo IX (1050). In the 12th century, the Third Lateran Council declared that only Cardinals could assume the papacy, a requirement that has since lapsed. In 1130, under Urban II, all the classes were permitted to take part in papal elections; up to this point, only cardinal-bishops had this role.
From the 13th to 15th centuries, the size of the College of Cardinals never exceeded thirty, although there were more than thirty parishes and diaconal districts which could potentially have a titular holder; Pope John XXII (1316–1334) formalized this norm by limiting the College to twenty members. In the ensuing century, increasing the size of the College became a method for the pope to raise funds for construction or war, cultivate European alliances, and dilute the strength of the College as a spiritual and political counterweight to papal supremacy.
The conclave capitulation of the papal conclave, 1352 limited the size of the College to twenty, and decreed that no new cardinals could be created until the size of the College had dropped to 16; however, Pope Innocent VI declared the capitulation invalid the following year.
By the end of the 14th century, the practice of solely Italian cardinals had ceased. Between the 14th century and 17th century, there was much struggle for the College between the cardinals of the day and the reigning popes. The most effective way for a pope to increase his power was to increase the number of cardinals, promoting those who had nominated him. Those cardinals in power saw these actions as an attempt to weaken their influence.
The Council of Basel (1431–1437, later transferred to Ferrara and then Florence) limited the size of the College to twenty-four, as did the capitulation of the papal conclave, 1464. The capitulations of the 1484 (Pope Innocent VIII) and 1513 (Pope Leo X) conclaves contained the same restriction. The capitulation of the papal conclave, 1492 also is known to have contained some restriction on the creation of new cardinals.
In 1517, Pope Leo X added another thirty-one cardinals, bringing the total to sixty-five so that he could have a supportive majority in the College of Cardinals. Paul IV brought the total to seventy. His immediate successor, Pope Pius IV (1559–1565), raised the limit to seventy-six. Although Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor sought a limit of 26 and complained about the size and quality of the College to his legates to the Council of Trent, and some French attendees advocated a limit of 24, that Council did not prescribe a limit to the size of the College. By the papacy of Sixtus V (1585–1590), the number was set at seventy on 3 December 1586, divided among fourteen cardinal-deacons, fifty cardinal-priests, and six cardinal-bishops.
Popes respected that limit until Pope John XXIII increased the number of cardinals several times to a high of 88 in January 1961 and Pope Paul VI continued this expansion, reaching 134 at his third consistory in April 1969. The size of the College lost its significance when Paul decided to allow only cardinals under the age of 80 to vote in a conclave from 1971 onward.[a] Then, in 1975, Paul set the maximum number of those under 80, the cardinal electors, at 120. His next consistory in 1976 brought the number of cardinal electors to its full complement of 120.
All three of Paul's successors have at times exceeded the 120 maximum. Pope John Paul II reiterated the 120 maximum in 1996, yet his appointments to the College resulted in more than 120 cardinal electors on 4 of his nine consistories, reaching a high of 135 in February 2001 and again in October 2003.[b] Three of Pope Benedict XVI's five consistories resulted in more than 120 cardinal electors, the high being 125 in 2012. Pope Francis has slightly exceeded the limit in all five of his consistories (as of 2018), reaching as high as 125 in February 2015 and June 2018. However, the number of cardinal electors has never exceeded 120 yet at the time of a conclave.
Other changes to the College in the 20th century affected specific orders. In 1961 Pope John XXIII reserved to the pope the right to assign any member of College to one of the suburbicarian sees and the rank of cardinal bishop. Previously only the senior cardinal priest and the senior cardinal deacon had the privilege of requesting such an appointment (jus optionis) when a vacancy occurred. In 1962 he established that all cardinals should be bishops, ending the identification of the order of cardinal deacon with cardinals who were not bishops. He consecrated the twelve non-bishop members of the College himself.[c] In February 1965, Pope Paul VI decided that an Eastern Rite Patriarch who is created a cardinal would no longer be assigned a titular church in Rome, but maintain his see and join the order of cardinal bishops, the rank previously reserved to the six cardinals assigned to the suburbicarian dioceses.[d] He also required that the suburbicarian bishops elect one of themselves as the Dean and Vice-Dean of the College, instead of allowing them to select any member of the College.[e] In June 2018, Pope Francis eased the rules governing the rank of cardinal bishop to open that rank to anyone of the pope's choosing, granting such cardinals the same privileges as those assigned suburbicarian sees.
The resignation or removal of members has been a relatively rare phenomenon. Between 1791 and 2018, only six members resigned or were removed from the College; Theodore Edgar McCarrick resigned in 2018, Louis Billot resigned in 1927, Carlo Odescalchi resigned in 1838, Marino Carafa di Belevedere resigned in 1807, Tommaso Antici resigned in 1798 and Étienne Charles de Loménie de Brienne was removed in 1791.
As of 8 April 2019, the College has 222 members, 121 of whom are eligible to participate in a conclave. The group's size has historically been limited by popes, ecumenical councils, and even the College itself. From 1099 to 1986, the total number of cardinals appointed was approximately 2,900 (excluding possibly undocumented 12th-century cardinals, pseudocardinals appointed during the Western Schism by pontiffs now considered to be antipopes, and subject to some other sources of uncertainty), nearly half of whom were created after 1655.
A function of the college is to advise the pope about church matters when he summons them to an ordinary consistory, a term derived from the Roman Emperor's crown council. It also attends various functions as a matter of protocol, for example, during the canonization process.
It also convenes on the death or resignation of a pope as a papal conclave to elect a successor, but is then restricted to eligible Cardinals under the age limit, which was set for the first time in 1970 by Pope Paul VI at 80.
The college has no ruling power except during the sede vacante (papal vacancy) period, and even then its powers are extremely limited by the terms of the current law, which is laid down in the Apostolic constitution Universi Dominici gregis (1996) and the Fundamental Law of Vatican City State.
Historically, cardinals were the clergy serving parishes of the city of Rome under its bishop, the pope. The College acquired particular importance following the crowning of Henry IV as King of Germany and Holy Roman Emperor at the age of six, after the unexpected death of Henry III in 1056. Until then, the Holy See was often bitterly fought for among Rome's aristocratic families and external secular authorities had significant influence over who was to be appointed pope, and the Holy Roman Emperor in particular had the special power to appoint him. This was significant as the aims and views of the Holy Roman Emperor and the Church did not always coincide. Churchmen involved in what has become known as the Gregorian Reform took advantage of the new king's lack of power and in 1059 reserved the election of the pope to the clergy of the Church in Rome. This was part of a larger power struggle, which became known as the Investiture Controversy, as the Church and the Emperor each attempted to gain more control over the appointment of bishops, and in doing so wield more influence in the lands and governments they were appointed to. Reserving to the cardinals the election of the pope represented a significant shift in the balance of power in the Early Medieval world. From the beginning of the 12th century, the College of Cardinals started to meet as such, when the cardinal bishops, cardinal priests and cardinal deacons ceased acting as separate groups.
In the Catholic church, the Dean of the College of Cardinals and the Cardinal Vice-Dean are the president and vice-president of the college. Both are elected by and from the cardinal bishops (cardinals of the highest order, including those holding suburbicarian dioceses), but the election requires papal confirmation. Except for presiding and delegating administrative tasks, they have no authority over the cardinals, acting as primus inter pares (first among equals).
The Secretary of State, the prefects of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, the Vicar General of Rome, and the Patriarchs of Venice and Lisbon, are usually cardinals, with few, usually temporary, exceptions. The Fundamental Law of Vatican City State requires that appointees to the state's legislative body, the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State, be cardinals.
Under the terms of Pope Paul VI's motu proprio Ingravescentem aetatem, cardinals who reached the age of 80 before a conclave opened had no vote in papal elections. Pope John Paul II's Universi Dominici gregis of 22 February 1996 modified that rule slightly, so that cardinals who have reached the age of 80 before the day the see becomes vacant are not eligible to vote.
Canon law sets the general qualifications required of someone to be appointed bishop quite broadly, requiring someone of faith and good reputation, at least thirty-five years old and with a certain level of education. The cardinals have nevertheless elected the Bishop of Rome from among their own membership since the election of Pope Urban VI in 1378. The conclave rules specify the procedures to be followed should they elect someone residing outside Vatican City or not yet a bishop.
Of the 117 cardinals under the age of 80 at the time of Pope Benedict XVI's resignation, 115 participated in the conclave of March 2013 that elected his successor. The two who did not participate were Julius Riyadi Darmaatmadja (for health reasons) and Keith O'Brien (following allegations of sexual misconduct). Of the 115 cardinals who participated in the conclave that elected Pope Francis, 48 were appointed by Pope John Paul II and 67 by Pope Benedict XVI.
In fact, John Paul II derogated from Paul's legislation several times and after consistories in 2001 and 2003, for example, there were as many as 135 electors.
From today therefore, perhaps for the first time in the history of the Roman Catholic Church, all Cardinals are Bishops.
Alessandro Crescenzi, C.R.S. (1607 – 8 May 1688) was a Roman Catholic cardinal who served as Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals (1685–1688), Archbishop (Personal Title) of Recanati e Loreto (1676–1682), Titular Patriarch of Alexandria (1671–1676), Bishop of Bitonto (1652–1668), Bishop of Ortona a Mare e Campli (1644–1652), and Bishop of Termoli (1643–1644).Amleto Giovanni Cicognani
Amleto Giovanni Cicognani (24 February 1883 – 17 December 1973) was an Italian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Vatican Secretary of State from 1961 to 1969, and Dean of the College of Cardinals from 1972 until his death. Cicognani was elevated to the cardinalate in 1958. His brother, Gaetano Cicognani, was also a cardinal. To date they are the last pair of brothers to serve together in the College of Cardinals.Angelo Sodano
Angelo Raffaele Sodano, GCC (born 23 November 1927) is an Italian prelate of the Catholic Church, a Cardinal since 1991, who has served as Dean of the College of Cardinals since 2005. He was Cardinal Secretary of State from 1991 to 2006. In 2005, he was elected Dean of the College of Cardinals. Sodano was the first person since 1828 to serve simultaneously as Dean and Secretary of State.
On 22 June 2006, Pope Benedict XVI accepted Sodano's resignation as Secretary of State, effective on 15 September 2006. He had served in the diplomatic corps of the Holy See since 1959, including a decade as nuncio to Chile from 1978 to 1988.Cardinal (Catholic Church)
A cardinal (Latin: Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae cardinalis, literally 'cardinal of the Holy Roman Church') is a senior ecclesiastical leader, considered a Prince of the Church, and usually an ordained bishop of the Catholic Church. The cardinals of the Church are collectively known as the College of Cardinals. The duties of the cardinals include attending the meetings of the College and making themselves available individually or in groups to the pope as requested. Most have additional duties, such as leading a diocese or archdiocese or managing a department of the Roman Curia. A cardinal's primary duty is electing the pope when the see becomes vacant. During the sede vacante (the period between a pope's death or resignation and the election of his successor), the day-to-day governance of the Holy See is in the hands of the College of Cardinals. The right to enter the conclave of cardinals where the pope is elected is limited to those who have not reached the age of 80 years by the day the vacancy occurs.
In 1059, the right of electing the pope was reserved to the principal clergy of Rome and the bishops of the seven suburbicarian sees. In the 12th century the practice of appointing ecclesiastics from outside Rome as cardinals began, with each of them assigned a church in Rome as his titular church or linked with one of the suburbicarian dioceses, while still being incardinated in a diocese other than that of Rome.The term cardinal at one time applied to any priest permanently assigned or incardinated to a church, or specifically to the senior priest of an important church, based on the Latin cardo (hinge), meaning "pivotal" as in "principal" or "chief". The term was applied in this sense as early as the ninth century to the priests of the tituli (parishes) of the diocese of Rome.Carlo de' Medici (cardinal)
Carlo de' Medici (March 19, 1595 – June 17, 1666) was the son of Ferdinando I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany and Christina of Lorraine.Dean of the College of Cardinals
The Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals (Latin: Decanus Sacri Collegii) is the dean (president) of the College of Cardinals in the Roman Catholic Church. The position was established in the early 12th century.
The Dean presides over the College of Cardinals, serving as primus inter pares in the college. He always holds the rank of cardinal bishop. The Dean of the College of Cardinals is assisted by the Vice-Dean; in those roles they act as the president and vice-president of the college respectively. Both are elected by and from the Cardinal Bishops who are not Eastern Catholic patriarchs and subject to papal confirmation. Except for presiding, the Dean and Vice-Dean have no power over the other cardinals. In the order of precedence in the Catholic Church as the senior Cardinal Bishops, the Dean and Vice-Dean are placed second and third, respectively, after the pope.
The Dean is often, but not necessarily, the longest-serving member of the whole College. It had been customary for centuries for the longest-serving of the six cardinal bishops of suburbicarian sees to be Dean. This was required by canon law from 1917 until 1965, when Pope Paul VI empowered the six to elect the Dean from among their number. This election was a formality until the time of Pope John Paul II.The Dean holds the position until death or resignation; there is no mandatory age of retirement.Domus Sanctae Marthae
The Domus Sanctae Marthae (Latin for Saint Martha's House; Italian: Casa Santa Marta) is a building adjacent to St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. Completed in 1996, during the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, it is named after Martha of Bethany, who was a sibling to Mary and Lazarus of Bethany. The building functions as a guesthouse for clergy having business with the Holy See, and as the hotel residence of the members of the College of Cardinals when they are participating in a papal conclave to elect a new Pope.
Pope Francis has lived in a penthouse suite in the building since his election in March 2013, declining to use the Papal Apartments in the Apostolic Palace.Giovanni Battista Re
Giovanni Battista Re (born 30 January 1934) is an Italian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church whose service has been primarily in the Roman Curia. He was elevated to the rank of cardinal in 2001. He is the Prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Bishops, having retired on 30 June 2010. As the senior Cardinal-Bishop to attend the March 2013 conclave to elect Pope Benedict XVI's successor, he chaired the conclave. Pope Francis approved his election as Sub-Dean of the College of Cardinals on 10 June 2017.Henry Benedict Stuart
Henry Benedict Thomas Edward Maria Clement Francis Xavier Stuart, Cardinal Duke of York (6 March 1725 – 13 July 1807) was a Roman Catholic cardinal, as well as the fourth and final Jacobite heir to claim the thrones of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland publicly. Unlike his father, James Francis Edward Stuart, and brother, Charles Edward Stuart, Henry made no effort to seize the throne. After Charles's death in January 1788 the Papacy did not recognise Henry as the lawful ruler of England, Scotland, and Ireland, but referred to him as the Cardinal Duke of York.He spent his life in the Papal States and had a long career in the clergy of the Roman Catholic Church, rising to become the Dean of the College of Cardinals and Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia and Velletri. At the time of his death he was (and still is) one of the longest-serving cardinals in the Church's history.
In his youth, Henry's father made him Duke of York (in the Jacobite Peerage), and it was by this title that he was best known. Upon the death of his brother in 1788, Henry became known by Jacobites, and within his personal entourage, as Henry IX of England and Ireland, and I of Scotland, although publicly he referred to himself as Cardinal-Duke of York nuncupatus.Ingravescentem aetatem
Ingravescentem aetatem (Ecclesiastical Latin: [iŋɡraveˈʃentem eˈtatem]) is a document issued by Pope Paul VI, dated 21 November 1970. It is divided into 8 chapters. The Latin title is taken from the incipit, and translates to "advancing age". It established a rule that only cardinals who have not reached the age of 80 can participate in a conclave.
In 2013, when Pope Benedict XVI announced his plan to resign as pope, he described his reasoning with the same phrase: ingravescentem aetatem.List of Camerlengos of the Sacred College of Cardinals
The Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals was the treasurer of that body within the Catholic Church. The title is based on an Italian word for chamberlain, a word no longer used in secular contexts. The position existed from at least 1272 until 1997, when it was allowed to lapse.
He administered all property, fees, funds and revenue belonging to the College of Cardinals, celebrated the requiem mass for a deceased cardinal and was charged with the registry of the Acta Consistoralia.
It is believed that the post was created by Pope Eugene III in 1150, but there is no documentary proof of its existence before the pontificate of Pope Innocent III, or perhaps even before the year 1272.Luigi Traglia
Luigi Traglia (3 April 1895 – 22 November 1977) was an Italian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Vicar General of Rome from 1965 to 1968, and Dean of the College of Cardinals from 1974 until his death. Traglia was elevated to the cardinalate in 1960.Papal conclave
A papal conclave is a meeting of the College of Cardinals convened to elect a Bishop of Rome, also known as the pope. The pope is considered by Roman Catholics to be the apostolic successor of Saint Peter and earthly head of the Roman Catholic Church.Concerns around political interference led to reforms after the interregnum of 1268–1271 and Pope Gregory X's decree during the Second Council of Lyons in 1274 that the cardinal electors should be locked in seclusion cum clave (Latin for "with a key") and not permitted to leave until a new Bishop of Rome had been elected. Conclaves are now held in the Sistine Chapel of the Apostolic Palace.Since the Apostolic Age, the Bishop of Rome, like other bishops, was chosen by the consensus of the clergy and laity of the diocese. The body of electors was more precisely defined when, in 1059, the College of Cardinals was designated the sole body of electors. Since then, other details of the process have developed. In 1970, Pope Paul VI limited the electors to cardinals under 80 years of age in Ingravescentem aetatem. The current procedures were established by Pope John Paul II in his apostolic constitution Universi Dominici gregis as amended by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007 and 2013. A two-thirds supermajority vote is required to elect the new pope.Papal consistory
In the Roman Catholic Church a consistory is a formal meeting of the College of Cardinals called by the pope. There are two kinds of consistories, extraordinary and ordinary. An "extraordinary" consistory is held to allow the pope to consult with the entire membership of the College of Cardinals. An "ordinary" consistory is ceremonial in nature and attended by cardinals resident in Rome. For example, the pope elevates new cardinals to the College at a consistory; Pope Francis has called consistories for ceremonies of canonization.A meeting of the College of Cardinals to elect a new pope is not a consistory, but a conclave.Papal coronation
A papal coronation was the ceremony of the placing of the papal tiara on a newly elected pope. The first recorded papal coronation was that of Nicholas I in 858. The last was the 1963 coronation of Paul VI, who soon afterwards abandoned the practice of wearing the tiara. None of his successors have used the tiara, and their papal inauguration celebrations have included no coronation ceremony.
The papal inauguration celebration, with or without a coronation, has only symbolic significance, as a pope assumes office immediately on giving his consent to a valid election.
In Spanish, the term Coronación Pontificia (English: "pontifical coronation") is sometimes used for the canonical coronation of religious images by via a formal expressed decree by a reigning Pope.Pope Alexander IV
Pope Alexander IV (1199 or c. 1185 – 25 May 1261) was Pope from 12 December 1254 to his death in 1261.Pope Paul III
Pope Paul III (Latin: Paulus III; 29 February 1468 – 10 November 1549), born Alessandro Farnese, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 13 October 1534 to his death in 1549.
He came to the papal throne in an era following the sack of Rome in 1527 and rife with uncertainties in the Catholic Church following the Protestant Reformation. During his pontificate, and in the spirit of the Counter-Reformation, new Catholic religious orders and societies, such as the Jesuits, the Barnabites, and the Congregation of the Oratory, attracted a popular following.
He convened the Council of Trent in 1545. He was a significant patron of the arts and employed nepotism to advance the power and fortunes of his family. It is to Pope Paul III that Nicolaus Copernicus dedicated De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres).Protopriest
The Protopriest of the College of Cardinals (Italian: protopresbitero, and, rare, Italian: protoprete) in the College of Cardinals, is the first Cardinal-Priest in the order of precedence, hence directly after the Cardinal-bishops.
This title is always attached to the most senior Cardinal Priest according to date of his creation. From the 17th century until the end of the 19th century, the Protopriest was usually assigned to the Titular church of San Lorenzo in Lucina.The protopriest has the honor of pronouncing the formal prayer for the new pope at the papal inauguration after the protodeacon (most senior Cardinal deacon) bestows the pallium and before the Dean of the College of Cardinals (most senior Cardinal-bishop) presents the Ring of the Fisherman. This last happened at the inauguration of Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, but did not happen at the inauguration of Pope Francis in 2013 because the protopriest, Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns, then 91 years old, remained in São Paulo, Brazil, and did not attend. Cardinal Michael Michai Kitbunchu of Bangkok has been the protopriest since 14 December 2016.Suburbicarian diocese
The seven suburbicarian dioceses are Roman Catholic dioceses located in the vicinity of Rome, whose (titular) bishops are the (now six) ordinary members of the highest-ranking order of Cardinals, the Cardinal Bishops (to which the Cardinal-patriarchs were added).
|Year||Size of the College|
|1119||46 or 47|
|1241||12 or 13|
|Source: Broderick, 1987, pp. 13–14.|
|Elections and conclaves|
of the Catholic Church
of the faithful