Who is he?:
A Cardinal is a senior member of the Catholic clergy(deacon, priest and bishop). Cardinals are not ordained but are elected and created by the pope and they are meant to hold the title for life. A Cardinal is also a priest and most times a bishop. His elevation is that of rank and not of Sacred Order as the sacred order consists of the deacon, priest and bishop, thus not ordained. Together, cardinals constitute the College of Cardinals.

Coat of arm:
The coat of arms of a cardinal (who is a bishop) is indicated by a red galero (wide-brimmed hat) with 15 tassels on each side (the motto and escutcheon are proper to the individual cardinal).

a. Their most serious responsibility is to elect a new pope in a conclave for those who have not reached the age of eighty, when the Holy See is vacant.
b. The day-to-day governance of the Holy See is in the hands of the College of Cardinals, within the period between a pope’s death or resignation and the election of his successor.
c. Cardinals collectively participate in papal annual consistories in which matters of importance to the Church are considered thereby acting as Pope’s counsellors or advisers.
d. Cardinals of working age are also appointed to roles of overseeing dicasteries of the Roman Curia, the central administration of the Catholic Church.

a. In addition to their existing roles within the Church, most cardinals are bishops and archbishops leading dioceses and archdioceses around the world and, often but not always the most prominent diocese or archdiocese in their country.
b. Others are titular bishops who are current or former officials within the Roman Curia (generally the leaders of dicasteries and other bodies linked with the Curia).
c. A very small number are priests recognised by the pope for their service to the Church; as canon law requires them to be generally consecrated as bishops before they are made cardinals, but some are granted a papal dispensation like Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa OFM, who is an Italian Catholic cardinal and priest in the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin and a theologian.

Criteria for Creation/Elevation:
There are no strict criteria for elevation to the College of Cardinals. The Church’s Code of Canon Law states that those promoted as cardinals are men freely selected by the Roman Pontiff, who are at least in the order of presbyterate(priests) and are especially outstanding for their doctrine, morals, piety, and prudence in action. So, the onus lies on the Pope.

A bishop who is made a Cardinal changes his entire clerical purple wardrobe; from purple cassock, purple ribboned cassock, purple sash and purple zucchetto (skull cap), to red. So any purple in his wardrobe is to be changed to red.

Order of Cardinals:
There are three orders of the cardinalate in descending order: Cardinal-Bishop, Cardinal-priest and Cardinal-deacon.

a. Cardinal bishops also known as cardinals of the episcopal order are the senior order of cardinalate. They are cardinals to whom the Roman Pontiff assigns title of a suburbicarian church(Roman Catholic dioceses located in the vicinity of Rome) and Eastern patriarchs who have been brought into the college of cardinals. So, being a bishop or an Archbishop before elevation to cardinalate doesn’t make one automatically a Cardinal bishop, only few cardinals are “cardinal bishops.” There are only twelve living cardinal bishops which includes Francis Cardinal Arinze.

b. Cardinal priests are the most numerous of the three orders of cardinals in the Catholic Church, ranking above the cardinal deacons and below the cardinal bishops. Those who are named cardinal priests today are generally also bishops of important dioceses throughout the world, though some hold Curial positions. Bishops with diocesan responsibilities, however, are created cardinal priests. So, Cardinal Okpaleke is a Cardinal priest.

c. Cardinal deacons are the lowest-ranking cardinals. Cardinals elevated to the diaconal order are either officials of the Roman Curia or priests elevated after their 80th birthday. Cardinal Cantalamessa is s a Cardinal deacon and preacher of the papal household.

d. Cardinal protodeacon: He is the senior cardinal deacon in order of appointment to the College of Cardinals. If he is a cardinal elector and participates in a conclave, he announces a new pope’s election and name from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. The protodeacon also bestows the pallium on the new pope.

Title and Reference Style:
In 1630, Pope Urban VIII decreed their title to be Eminence and decreed that their secular rank would equate to Prince, making them secondary only to the Pope and crowned monarchs. Thus, the designation as a prince of the Church. In accordance with tradition, they sign by placing the title “Cardinal” (abbreviated Card.) after their personal name and before their surname as, for instance, “Peter Ebere Cardinal okpaleke”, “Francis Cardinal Arinze”, etc.

Note well: Peter Ebere Cardinal okpaleke is the Bishop of Ekwulobia Diocese and the Cardinal-Priest of Santi Martiri dell’Uganda a Poggio Ameno, a Cardinal Titular Church. A titular church is a church in Rome that is assigned to a member of the clergy who is created a cardinal. These are Catholic churches in the city, within the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Rome, that serve as honorary designations symbolising the relationship of cardinals to the pope, the bishop of Rome. According to the 1983 Code of Canon Law, a cardinal may assist his titular church through counsel or through patronage, although “he has no power of governance over it, and he should not for any reason interfere in matters concerning the administration of its good, or its discipline, or the service of the church.

Also in jurisdiction, the Archbishop of an ecclesiastical province holds a preeminent position more than the cardinal if the cardinal who is a bishop is within the Archbishop’s province.

©Fr. Henrycharles Umelechi

Truth Series.

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