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Are there different types of cardinals?

2012-11-23

CARD. JOSE SARAIVA MARTINS
Prefect Emeritus, Congregation for the Causes of Saints

"Cardinals are divided into three groups. The first are the Cardinal Bishops, of whom there are only six. The Cardinal Priests are the second  category, and the third, the Cardinal Deacons."

According to canon law, all cardinals must be ordained as bishops. However, only six of them are classified as 'Cardinal Bishops.'

While it may sound confusing, it is easier understood when explained by one of the Cardinal Bishops, José Saraiva Martins.

The key is the Roman parish that the Pope has symbolically entrusted to them.

CARD. JOSE SARAIVA MARTINS
Prefect Emeritus, Congregation for the Causes of Saints

"There are only six Cardinal Bishops, and their assigned churches are not in Rome, like the other cardinals, but rather outside the city. Those are the churches St. Peter founded in Rome's surroundings areas. That's why they're called 'suburbicarian' ."

There are a total of seven suburbicarian churches, but only six Cardinal Bishops assigned to them. The Dean of the College of Cardinals, a post held by Angelo Sodano, is assigned to two.

The Cardinal Priests are in charge of the dioceses around the world, while the Cardinal Deacons work for the Roman Curia.

Despite their classifications, the work they do is mostly the same, as Cardinal Saraiva Martins explains.

CARD. JOSE SARAIVA MARTINS
Prefect Emeritus, Congregation for the Causes of Saints

"That's precisely the most beautiful part, to serve the Church through the Pope, the successor of Peter."

An honor and recognition that carries with it a life-long sacrifice and service to the Church, at all costs.


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