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Cardinal (Catholicism)/Special types of cardinals

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Cardinal (Catholicism)
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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
Titular church
Title and reference style
Orders
Special types of cardinals
Cardinals in pectore or secret cardinals
Vesture and privileges
Cardinals in popular culture
Article discussion

Special types of cardinalsEdit

Cardinals who are not bishopsEdit

Until 1918 it was possible for someone who was not a priest, but only in minor orders (and so perhaps married), to become a cardinal (see on "lay cardinals" below), but they were enrolled only in the order of cardinal deacons. For example, in the 16th century, Reginald Pole was a cardinal for 18 years before he was ordained a priest. After 1918 it was established that all cardinals, even the cardinal deacons, had to be priests, and since 1962 all cardinals have been bishops with rare exceptions where permission was granted to decline episcopal consecration because of advanced age. Today, Canon 351 requires that a cardinal be at least in the order of priesthood at his appointment, and those who are not already bishops must receive episcopal consecration, save by dispensation from the pope, as was obtained by Avery Dulles, Roberto Tucci and Albert Vanhoye. A cardinal who is not a bishop is still entitled to wear and use the episcopal vestments and other pontificalia (episcopal regalia: mitre, crozier, zucchetto, pectoral cross and ring).

"Lay cardinals"Edit

At various times there have been cardinals that had only received first tonsure and minor orders but not yet been ordained as deacons or priests. Though clerics, they were inaccurately called "lay cardinals" and were permitted to marry. Teodolfo Mertel was among the last of the lay cardinals. When he died in 1899 he was the last surviving cardinal who was not at least ordained a priest. With the revision of the Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1917 by Pope Benedict XV, only those who are already priests or bishops may be appointed cardinals.[1] Since the time of Pope John XXIII a priest who is appointed a cardinal must be ordained a bishop, unless he obtains a dispensation.[2]



  1. canon 232 §1 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law
  2. Cf. canon 351 §1 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law

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