If I'm from a Catholic Diocese that has a bishop who is its ordinary bishop, we're sort of a member under the wing of a neighboring archdiocese with an archbishop (this makes sense). But the archdiocese is adjacent to another archdiocese whose head is a cardinal. Does this cardinal have some power/jurisdiction/authority over the archdiocese/diocese I am a member of?

  • What I find is the concept of metropolitan archdiocese headed by archbishop who is the metropolitan of the province. This Wikpedia article section discusses relationship between a suffragan diocese and the metropolitan/provincial archdiocese. Are you sure you're not asking about metropolitan archbishop instead of cardinal-bishop? Dec 10, 2023 at 5:29
  • @GratefulDisciple I'm specifically asking if Cardinal Cupich has any say over what goes on in the Diocese of Madison. I've heard conflicting reports
    – Peter Turner
    Dec 11, 2023 at 4:02
  • @PeterTurner as noted in Ken's answer -- not directly. Cardinals simply by being Cardinals attain no additional authority over the diocese near their assigned sees. Indirectly, they do have some influence.
    – eques
    Dec 11, 2023 at 19:14

1 Answer 1


What is the role of a cardinal-bishop in an archdiocese?

The role of Cardinals is to vote for a new pope when the papacy is vacant and to advice the the pope in different circumstances that arise within the Church and to help in various aspects of governing the entire Catholic Church.

There are three ranks of Cardinals: Cardinal-Bishop. Cardinal-Priest and Cardinal-Deacons. Since all Cardinals are normally required to be bishops it has come down the way that the vast majority of Cardinals are known as bishops who are cardinal-priests.

An archbishop who is a cardinal is not always cardinal-bishop, but may simply be simply be a metropolitan archbishop who is either a cardinal-bishop, cardinal-priest or a cardinal-deacon. He has no power/jurisdiction/authority over over any other neighbouring archdiocese/dioceses, even if he is a cardinal-bishop!


Cardinal bishops (cardinals of the episcopal order; Latin: cardinales episcopi) are the senior order of cardinals. Though in modern times the vast majority of cardinals are also bishops or archbishops, few are "cardinal bishops". For most of the second millennium there were six cardinal bishops, each presiding over one of the seven suburbicarian sees around Rome: Ostia, Albano, Porto and Santa Rufina, Palestrina, Sabina and Mentana, Frascati, and Velletri. Velletri was united with Ostia from 1150 until 1914, when Pope Pius X separated them again, but decreed that whichever cardinal bishop became Dean of the College of Cardinals would keep the suburbicarian see he already held, adding to it that of Ostia, with the result that there continued to be only six cardinal bishops. Since 1962, the cardinal bishops have only a titular relationship with the suburbicarian sees, each of which is governed by a separate ordinary.

Until 1961, membership in the order of cardinal bishops was achieved through precedence in the College of Cardinals. When a suburbicarian see fell vacant, the most senior cardinal by precedence could exercise his option to claim the see and be promoted to the order of cardinal bishops. Pope John XXIII abolished that privilege on 10 March 1961 and made the right to promote someone to the order of cardinal bishops the sole prerogative of the pope.

In 1965, Pope Paul VI decreed in his motu proprio Ad purpuratorum Patrum Collegium that patriarchs of the Eastern Catholic Churches who were named cardinals (i.e. "cardinal patriarchs") would also be cardinal bishops, ranking after the six Roman rite cardinal bishops of the suburbicarian sees. (Latin Church patriarchs who become cardinals are cardinal priests, not cardinal bishops: for example Angelo Scola was made Patriarch of Venice in 2002 and cardinal priest of Santi XII Apostoli in 2003.) Those of cardinal patriarch rank continue to hold their patriarchal see and are not assigned any Roman title (suburbicarian see or title or deaconry).

At the June 2018 consistory, Pope Francis increased the number of Latin Church cardinal bishops to match the expansion in cardinal priests and cardinal deacons in recent decades. He elevated four cardinals to this rank granting their titular churches and deaconries suburbicarian rank pro hac vice (temporarily) and making them equivalent to suburbicarian see titles. At the time of the announcement, all six cardinal bishops of suburbicarian see titles, as well as two of the three cardinal patriarchs, were non-electors they had reached the age of 80. Pope Francis created another cardinal bishop in the same way on 1 May 2020, bringing the number of Latin Church cardinal bishops to eleven.

The Dean of the College of Cardinals, the highest ranking cardinal, was formerly the longest serving cardinal bishop, but since 1965 is elected by the Latin Church cardinal bishops from among their number, subject to papal approval. Likewise the Vice-Dean, formerly the second longest serving, is also elected. Seniority of the remaining Latin Church cardinal bishops is still by date of appointment to the rank.

Cardinal priests

Cardinal priests (Latin: cardinales presbyteri) 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.

In modern times, the name "cardinal priest" is interpreted as meaning a cardinal who is of the order of priests. Originally, however, this referred to certain key priests of important churches of the Diocese of Rome, who were recognized as the cardinal priests, the important priests chosen by the pope to advise him in his duties as Bishop of Rome (the Latin cardo means "hinge"). Certain clerics in many dioceses at the time, not just that of Rome, were said to be the key personnel—the term gradually became exclusive to Rome to indicate those entrusted with electing the Bishop of Rome, the pope.

While the cardinalate has long been expanded beyond the Roman pastoral clergy and Roman Curia, every cardinal priest has a titular church in Rome, though they may be bishops or archbishops elsewhere, just as cardinal bishops were given one of the suburbicarian dioceses around Rome. Pope Paul VI abolished all administrative rights cardinals had with regard to their titular churches, though the cardinal's name and coat of arms are still posted in the church, and they are expected to celebrate Mass and preach there if convenient when they are in Rome.

While the number of cardinals was small from the times of the Roman Empire to the Renaissance, and frequently smaller than the number of recognized churches entitled to a cardinal priest, in the 16th century the college expanded markedly. In 1587, Pope Sixtus V sought to arrest this growth by fixing the maximum size of the college at 70, including 50 cardinal priests, about twice the historical number. This limit was respected until 1958, and the list of titular churches modified only on rare occasions, generally when a building fell into disrepair. When Pope John XXIII abolished the limit, he began to add new churches to the list, which Popes Paul VI and John Paul II continued to do. Today there are close to 150 titular churches, out of over 300 churches in Rome.

The cardinal who is the longest-serving member of the order of cardinal priests is titled cardinal protopriest. He had certain ceremonial duties in the conclave that have effectively ceased because he would generally have already reached age 80, at which cardinals are barred from the conclave. The current cardinal protopriest is Michael Michai Kitbunchu of Thailand.

Cardinal deacons

The cardinal deacons (Latin: cardinales diaconi) 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. Bishops with diocesan responsibilities, however, are created cardinal priests.

Cardinal deacons derive originally from the seven deacons in the Papal Household who supervised the Church's works in the seven districts of Rome during the early Middle Ages, when church administration was effectively the government of Rome and provided all social services. They came to be called "cardinal deacons" by the late eighth century, and they were granted active rights in papal elections and made eligible for the election as pope by the decree of 769.

Cardinals elevated to the diaconal order are mainly officials of the Roman Curia holding various posts in the church administration. Their number and influence has varied through the years. While historically predominantly Italian the group has become much more internationally diverse in later years. While in 1939 about half were Italian, by 1994 the number was reduced to one third. Their influence in the election of the pope has been considered important. They are better informed and connected than the dislocated cardinals but their level of unity has been varied. Under the 1587 decree of Pope Sixtus V, which fixed the maximum size of the College of Cardinals, there were 14 cardinal deacons. Later the number increased. As late as 1939 almost half of the cardinals were members of the Curia. Pius XII reduced this percentage to 24 percent. John XXIII brought it back up to 37 percent but Paul VI brought it down to 27 percent where John Paul II maintained this ratio.

As of 2005, there were over 50 churches recognized as cardinalatial deaconries, though there were only 30 cardinals of the order of deacons. Cardinal deacons have long enjoyed the right to "opt for the order of cardinal priests" (optazione) after they have been cardinal deacons for 10 years. They may on such elevation take a vacant "title" (a church allotted to a cardinal priest as the church in Rome with which he is associated) or their diaconal church may be temporarily elevated to a cardinal priest's "title" for that occasion. When elevated to cardinal priests, they take their precedence according to the day they were first made cardinal deacons (thus ranking above cardinal priests who were elevated to the college after them, regardless of order).

When not celebrating Mass but still serving a liturgical function, such as the semiannual Urbi et Orbi papal blessing, some Papal Masses and some events at Ecumenical Councils, cardinal deacons can be recognized by the dalmatics they would don with the simple white mitre (so called mitra simplex). - Cardinal (Catholic Church)

The rank of a cardinal does not grant an archbishop with extra jurisdictional powers over other dioceses or archdioceses.

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