RC dignitaries ranking immediately after the pope; his chief counselors. Three ranks: cardinal bps., cardinal priests, and cardinal deacons. In a series of increases 195973 their number was raised from 70, the limit set by Sixtus V (see Popes, 22), to 145. The number entitled to vote in papal elections was limited to 120. As of January 1, 1971, cardinals cease to be members of curial departments and offices and become ineligible to vote in papal elections at 80. They form the Sacred Coll., over whose meetings (consistories) the pope presides. Cardinals are created by the pope; all nations are supposed to be considered, but more cardinals are from It. than from any other country. Though the pope is not bound to ask or accept their advice, he consults them in all important matters, both in consistory and otherwise. The cardinals take an active part in the govt. of the RC Ch. through the offices they hold in the Curia* and various commissions. They often serve as legates. Since the 11th c. they elect the popes (see Conclave). Though in theory anyone, even a layman, is eligible to the papal chair, no one who was not previously a cardinal has been elected since Urban VI (1378). Cardinals wear red birettas and robes, are styled Your Eminences, and claim the right of addressing emperors and kings as brothers. See also Western Christianity 5001500, 7.
Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
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