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A modern dictionary of Catholic terms, both common and obscure. Find accurate definitions of words and phrases.

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CARDINAL

A high official of the Roman Catholic Church ranking next to the Pope. He is a member of the Sacred College and is appointed by the Sovereign Pontiff to assist and advise him in the government of the Church. The names of newly created cardinals are usually announced at a papal consistory. They may wear a specially designed red hat and cassock. They are the ones who elect a pope, who for centuries now, has always been a cardinal before his election. The Code of Canon Law, promulgated in 1918, decreed that all cardinals must be priests. In 1962, Pope John XXIII provided that the should all be bishops. (Etym. Latin cardo, hinge.)

All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

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