The College of Cardinals, formerly styled the Sacred College of
Cardinals, is the body of all cardinals of the Catholic Church. Its
membership is 214, as of 19 March 2018.[update] Most
cardinals exit the College only by death, although a few leave it by
election to the papacy, and still fewer leave by resignation or
dismissal. Changes in life expectancy partly account for the increases
in the size of the College.
Since the emergence of the
College of Cardinals
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. From 1099 to 1986,
the total number of cardinals was approximately 2,900 (excluding
possible undocumented 12th century cardinals, cardinals appointed
Western Schism by pontiffs now considered to be antipopes,
and subject to some other sources of uncertainty), nearly half of
which were created after 1655.
1.1 Historical data
3.2 Electing the pope
4 See also
7 External links
See also: External cardinal § History
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
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
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
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
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
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 (
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.
Fifth Council of the Lateran
Fifth Council of the Lateran (1512–1517), despite its lengthy
regulation of the lives of cardinals, did not speak to the size of the
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
Pope Pius IV (1559–1565), raised the limit to
Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor
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 1587, divided among fourteen
cardinal-deacons, fifty cardinal-priests, and six cardinal-bishops.
His successors respected that limit until
Pope John XXIII
(1958–1963) increased the number of cardinals to 75 (1958), 88
(1960), and 90 (1962).
Pope Paul VI (1963–1978) increased the
size of the college to 105 (1965), 120 (1967), and 136 (1969). He then
altered the significance of the size of the College by restricting the
right to vote in conclaves to those under the age of eighty. The
number of those cardinals, the cardinal-electors, he limited to a
maximum of 120. He removed any limitation on the overall size of the
College.[a] The immediate impact was to eliminate the voting
rights of 25 cardinals, 14 of them Italians. Cardinal Alfredo
Ottaviani, then 80, said the Pope's action was "an act committed in
contempt of tradition that is centuries old" and was "throwing over
board the bulk of his expert and gifted counselors". Cardinal
Eugène Tisserant, 86, objected that each cardinal's health should
determine his fitness and suggested that 73-year-old Paul VI seemed
When Paul VI increased the College to 145 members in 1973, the number
of cardinal electors was 116.
Pope John Paul II's appointments to
the College resulted in more than 120 under the age of 80 on several
occasions, reaching a high of 135 in February 2001. When exceeding
the 120 limit, he approved "temporary derogations" of the rule so that
all of those under 80 could participate in a consistory as
electors.[not in citation given] He also made titular churches of
parish churches constructed on the outskirts of Rome after World War
II to accommodate the increased size of the College.
has only allowed the number of cardinal electors to exceed the maximum
of 120 for brief periods. In 2016 he told reporters "we have 13 slots"
shortly before naming 13 new cardinals under the age of 80 to bring
the number of cardinal electors to 120.[b]
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]
For the Middle Ages, sources speaking to the size of the College of
Cardinals are most frequently those relating to papal elections and
This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.
Size of the College
46 or 47
12 or 13
Source: Broderick, 1987, pp. 13–14.
Italian-born cardinals as percentage
of the total College of Cardinals
Coat of arms
Coat of arms style for cardinals.
As of 1 April 2018,[update] the College has 214 members, 115
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
Part of a series on the
Hierarchy of the
Ecclesiastical titles (order of precedence)
Moderator of the curia
Chaplain of His Holiness
Assistant at the Pontifical Throne
Administrative and pastoral titles
Defender of the Bond
Consecrated and professed titles
Master of novices
Sovereign Military Order of Malta
Order of the Holy Sepulchre
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
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
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
Universi Dominici gregis
Universi Dominici gregis (1996) and the Fundamental Law
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
King of Germany and
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
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 six cardinal bishops
(cardinals of the highest order, 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
Electing the pope
This article is part of a series on the
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the Holy See
Sovereigns of the Vatican City
College of Cardinals
Secretariat of State
Section for Relations with States
Causes of Saints
Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments
Doctrine of the Faith
Evangelization of Peoples
Justice and Peace
Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers
Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People
Promoting Christian Unity
Promoting the New Evangelisation
Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See
Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See
Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff
Prefecture of the Papal Household
Multilateral foreign policy
Status in international law
Holy See and the United Nations
1983 Code of Canon Law
Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches
Vatican City portal
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
VI in 1378. The conclave rules specify the procedures to be followed
should they elect someone residing outside
Vatican City or not yet a
Of the 117 cardinals under the age of 80 at the time of
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
Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II and 67 by
Pope Benedict XVI.
Bishop (Catholic Church)
Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals
Catholic Church by country
Catholic Church hierarchy
Index of Vatican City-related articles
List of living cardinals
List of living cardinals (sortable)
List of the creations of the cardinals
List of titular churches
Palatinus (Roman Catholic Church)
Papal conclave, 2013
^ Paul VI set the 120 limit in November 1970, effective 1 January
^ The February 2014 consistory brought the number of cardinal electors
to 122, but the 80th birthday of Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Phạm
Minh Mẫn and death of
José da Cruz Policarpo
José da Cruz Policarpo reduced the number to
120 in less than a month. The June 2017 consistory brought the number
of cardinal electors to 121, and it would have declined to 120
Antonio Maria Vegliò
Antonio Maria Vegliò turned 80 in February 2018 had not
Carlo Caffarra died in September 2017.
^ John codified this and other rules for the College in Cum gravissima
dated 15 April 1962. On occasion a cardinal designate receives a
dispensation from this rule.
Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II granted the first
dispensation from this requirement to
Henri de Lubac
Henri de Lubac in 1983.
^ Paul codified this and other rules for the College in Ad pupuratorum
patrem dated 11 February 1965. The one Eastern Rite Patriarch
already a cardinal, Ignatius Gabriel I Tappouni, Patriarch of Antioch
and a cardinal since 1935, resigned his cardinal's titular church
Santi XII Apostoli and joined the order of cardinal bishops.
^ Paul codified this in Sacro cardinalium consilio dated 26 February
^ 1983 CIC, Bk. II, Pt. II, Sec. I, Chap. III The Cardinals of the
Holy Roman Church Archived 3 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
^ a b Broderick, 1987, p. 13.
^ a b Broderick, 1987, p. 11.
^ Miranda, S. (2003). The New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd Edition.
Detroit: Gale. [page needed]
^ van Lierde, Peter C. (1964). What Is a Cardinal?. New York:
Hawthorne Books Inc. p. 14.
^ a b c d Noonan, James-Charles (2012). The Church Visible: The
Ceremonial Life and Protocol of the Roman Catholic Church, Revised
Edition. New York: Sterling Ethos. pp. 8–9.
^ a b c Pham, 2004, p. 65.
^ Baumgartner, 2003, pp. 52–54.
^ Jugie, Pierre. Levillain, ed. 2002. "Cardinal." pp. 241–242.
^ a b c Miranda, Salvador. 1998. "Guide to documents and events
^ Burkle-Young, Francis A. 1998. "The election of
Pope Paul II
^ Baumgartner, 2003, p. 78-79.
^ Walsh, 2003, p. 109.
^ Baumgartner, 2003, p. 82.
^ Baumgartner, 2003, p. 92.
^ Burkle-Young, Francis A. 1998. "The election of
Pope Alexander VI
^ Pham, 2004, p. 65-66.
^ a b Pham, 2004, p. 66.
^ Friendly Jr., Alfred (27 November 1970). "Ottaviani Deplores Papal
Action Barring Vote of Aged Cardinals". New York Times. Retrieved 9
^ "Crítica de dos Cardenales contra el Papa Paulo VI" (in Spanish).
UP. 26 November 1970. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
^ Hofmann, Paul (3 February 1973). "30 Cardinals Named; Three Are
American". New York Times. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
^ Stanley, Alessandra (22 February 2001). "Shaping a Legacy, Pope
Installs 44 Cardinals". New York Times. Retrieved 26 May 2017.
^ Mickens, Robert (24 April 2017). "Letter from Rome The Next Stage of
Francis's Mission". Commonwealth Magazine. Retrieved 9 July
^ Gagliarducci, Andrea (13 October 2016). "What's the thought behind
Pope Francis' choices for cardinals?". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved
9 January 2017.
^ Reese, Thomas (13 January 2014). "Cardinals: continuity and change".
National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
^ McElwee, Joshua J. (21 May 2017). "Francis names five new cardinals,
including associate of Oscar Romero". La Stampa. Retrieved 9 July
2017. After the upcoming consistory, Francis will have named 49 of 121
cardinals able to vote in a papal conclave.
Pope John XXIII (10 March 1961). "Ad suburbicarias dioeceses" (in
Latin). Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 15 December 2017.
^ Cortesi, Arnoldo (20 March 1962). "
Pope Elevates 10 to Cardinal
Rank". New York Times. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
^ "Catholic Cardinals Now Are All Bishops". New York Times. 20 April
1962. Retrieved 25 October 2017. From today therefore, perhaps for the
first time in the history of the Roman Catholic Church, all Cardinals
^ Carson, Thomas, ed. (2002). New Catholic Encyclopedia. 3 (2nd ed.).
Gale. p. 106.
^ Goulding, Gill K. (2015). A Church of Passion and Hope: The
Formation of An Ecclesial Disposition from Ignatius Loyola to Pope
Francis and the New Evangelization. Bloomsbury T&T Clark.
Retrieved 15 December 2017. [page needed]
Pope Designates 27 New Cardinals". New York Times. 26 January 1965.
Retrieved 26 October 2017.
^ "Pontiff Installs 27 New Cardinals". New York Times. 23 February
1965. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
^ a b c Jedin, Hubert, ed. (1981). The Church in the Modern Age. X.
London: Burn & Oates. p. 168. Retrieved 2 November
^ CIC 1983, can. 349
^ a b John Paul II, Ap. Const.
Universi Dominici gregis
Universi Dominici gregis in AAS 88
^ Walsh, Michael (2011). The Cardinals: Thirteen Centuries of the Men
Behind the Papal Throne. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans
Publishing. p. 17. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
^ Broderick, J.F. 1987. "The Sacred College of Cardinals: Size and
Geographical Composition (1099–1986)." Archivum historiae
Pontificiae, 25: 8.
Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II (26 November 2000). "Fundamental Law of Vatican
City State" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 February
2008. Retrieved 11 April 2008.
^ "Code of Canon Law, Chapter II: Bishops". The Holy See. Archived
from the original on 19 February 2008. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
^ Universi Dominici gregis, 88–90
^ Pigott, Robert (25 February 2013). "Cardinal
Keith O'Brien resigns
as Archbishop". BBC News. Retrieved 25 February 2013.
Baumgartner, Frederic J. 2003. Behind Locked Doors: A History of the
Papal Elections. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 0-312-29463-8.
Broderick, J.F. 1987. "The Sacred College of Cardinals: Size and
Geographical Composition (1099–1986)." Archivum historiae
Pontificiae, 25: 7–71.
Levillain, Philippe, ed. 2002. The Papacy: An Encyclopedia. Routledge.
Pham, John-Peter. 2004. Heirs of the Fisherman: Behind the Scenes of
Papal Death and Succession. Oxford University Press.
Walsh, Michael. 2003. The Conclave: A Sometimes Secret and
Occasionally Bloody History of Papal Elections. Rowman &
Littlefield. ISBN 1-58051-135-X.
The College of Cardinals—
Holy See Press Office
GCatholic.org—extensive information on all cardinals since the 17th
Cardinals of the Catholic Church—sortable list, often slightly out
of date on deaths
Catholic-Hierarchy.org, with entry into extensive
Next Cardinal Creating Consistory by
Benedict XVI – The
Required Background Data (including statistical data and links). Popes
and the Papcy website (Anura Guruge). Retrieved 9 January 2017.
Deans of the College of Cardinals
R. d'Elci (1670–1761) (1737, 1755)
G. Spinelli (1694–1763) (1735, 1761)
C. Cavalchini (1683–1774) (1743, 1763)
G. Albani (1720–1803) (1747, 1774)
H. Stuart (1725–1807) (1747, 1803)
L. Antonelli (1730–1811) (1775, 1807)
A. Mattei (1744–1820) (1779, 1814)
G. della Somaglia (1744–1830) (1795, 1820)
B. Pacca (1756–1844) (1801, 1830)
L. Micara (1775–1847) (1824, 1844)
V. Macchi (1770–1860) (1826, 1847)
M. Mattei (1792–1870) (1832, 1860)
C. Naro (1798–1876) (1834, 1870)
L. di San Filippo e Sorso (1796–1878) (1837, 1876)
C. di Pietro (1806–1884) (1853, 1878)
C. Sacconi (1808–1889) (1861, 1884)
R. Monaco La Valletta (1827–1896) (1868, 1889)
L. Oreglia di Santo Stefano (1828–1913) (1873, 1896)
S. Vannutelli (1834–1915) (1887, 1913)
V. Vannutelli (1836–1930) (1889, 1915)
G. Granito Pignatelli di Belmonte (1851–1948) (1911, 1930)
F. Marchetti-Selvaggiani (1871–1951) (1930, 1948)
E. Tisserant (1884–1972) (1936, 1951)
A. G. Cicognani (1883–1973) (1958, 1972)
L. Traglia (1895–1977) (1960, 1974)
C. Confalonieri (1893–1986) (1958, 1977)
A. Rossi (1913–1995) (1965, 1986)
B. Gantin (1922–2008) (1977, 1993)
J. Ratzinger (1927–) (1977, 2002)
A. Sodano (1927–) (1991, 2005)
Living cardinals of the Catholic Church
By order of precedence in the
College of Cardinals
College of Cardinals under
Ortega y Alamino
Fernandes de Araújo
Macário do Nascimento Clemente
Monteiro de Castro
Abril y Castelló
Braz de Aviz
Cardinals ineligible to participate in a papal conclave are displayed