Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re has been elected as the new dean of the College of Cardinals. They are the highest-ranking cardinals, belonging to the order of bishops.
He is one of the cardinals with the greatest diplomatic backgrounds in the Vatican. He held important positions during the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, including being a substitute for the Secretary of State and prefect of the Congregation of Bishops.
As dean of the College of Cardinals, he will guide the meetings before an eventual conclave. However, since he is over 80 years old, he cannot participate in it. Therefore, he cannot preside over it or ask the new elected pope if he accepts the new assignment and which name he will take. This job will be done by his substitute, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Vice Dean of the College of Cardinals.
Cardinal Re is also responsible for maintaining contact with the cardinals and serving them if necessary.
Giovanni Battista Re replaces Angelo Sodano, who held this position for 14 years until his retirement on Dec. 21, 2019. Pope Francis abolished the rule stating the dean is a lifetime position. As of December, whoever assumes this responsibility will remain in the position for five years, renewable only once.
Translation: Melissa Butz