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Cardinal (Catholicism)

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Cardinal (Catholicism)
CardinalCoA PioM
Coat of Arms
The coat of arms of a cardinal are indicated by a red galero (wide-brimmed hat) with 15 tassels on each side (the motto and escutcheon are proper to the individual cardinal).
College and orders of cardinalate
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Title and reference style
Orders
Special types of cardinals
Cardinals in pectore or secret cardinals
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Cardinals in popular culture
Article discussion

A cardinal is a senior ecclesiastical official, usually a bishop, of the Catholic Church. They are collectively known as the College of Cardinals, which as a body elects a new pope. The duties of the cardinals include attending the meetings of the College and making themselves available individually or collectively to the pope if he requests their counsel. Most cardinals have additional duties, such as leading a diocese or archdiocese or running a department of the Roman Curia.

A cardinal's other main function is electing the pope whenever, by death or resignation, the seat becomes vacant. In 1059, the right of electing the pope was reserved to the principal clergy of Rome and the bishops of the seven suburbicarian sees. During the sede vacante, the period between a pope's death and the election of his successor, the day-to-day governance of the Church as a whole is in the hands of the College of Cardinals. The right to enter the conclave of cardinals who elect the pope is now limited to those who are not over 80 years old on the day of the pope's death or resignation.

The term "cardinal" at one time applied to any priest permanently assigned or incardinated to a church,[1] or specifically to the senior priest of an important church, based on the Latin cardo (hinge), meaning "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.[1] In the twelfth century the practice of appointing ecclesiastics from outside Rome as cardinals began, with each of them being assigned a church in Rome as his titular church, or being linked with one of the suburbicarian dioceses, while still being incardinated in a diocese other than that of Rome.

Cardinal Richelieu (Champaigne)

Cardinal Richelieu, chief minister of France.

HistoryEdit

The election of the pope was not always reserved to the cardinals; the pope was originally elected by the clergy and the people of the diocese of Rome. In medieval times, Roman nobility gained influence. The Holy Roman Emperors had a hand in choosing the pontiff. But as the pope gained greater political independence, the right of election was with the bull In nomine Domini reserved to cardinals in 1059, leaving the emperor only with a vague right of approbation.

However the influence of temporal rulers, notably the French kings, largely reemerged via cardinals of certain nationalities or politically significant movements; there even developed traditions entitling certain monarchs — e.g. of Austria, Spain, and Portugal — to nominate one of their trusted clerical subjects to be created cardinal, a so-called crown-cardinal.

In theory, the pope could substitute another body of electors for the College of Cardinals. Some proposed that the Synod of Bishops should perform this function, a proposal that was not accepted, because, among other reasons, the Synod of Bishops can only meet when called by the pope.

In early modern times, cardinals often had important roles in secular affairs. In some cases, they took on powerful positions in government. An example of this was found in Henry VIII's England where his chief minister was Thomas Wolsey. An even more prominent example is that of Cardinal Richelieu, whose power was so great that he was for many years the real ruler of France.[2] Richelieu was so successful that his successor, Jules Mazarin, was also a cardinal. Guillaume Dubois and André-Hercule de Fleury complete the list of the "four great" cardinals to have ruled France.

As of 2009, the youngest cardinal is Péter Erdő - the Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest and Primate of Hungary. The oldest living cardinal is Paul Mayer - the President Emeritus of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei.

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