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College of Cardinals

The Sacred College of Cardinals is the body of all Cardinals of the Catholic Church. Historically, they were the clergy of the city of Rome: they were the priests serving the Pope as the Bishop of Rome (hence, they were assigned duties in parishes of the city).

Today the only roles of the College are electing a new Pope when the see is vacant (in the Conclave) and advising the Roman Pontiff about Church matters - the College has no ruling power. The prefects of Vatican Congregations are always Cardinals.

While it is not required, it has been the norm, not violated since the election of Urban VI in 1378, that the Pope should be elected from the ranks of the Cardinals.

Since January 1, 1971, the cardinals over age 80 have not had a vote in the election of popes, under the terms of Pope Paul VI's motu proprio Ingravescentam Aetatem.

Members of the College of Cardinals

Cardinals are shown in order of seniority by date of appointment. The list is correct as of January 2004. Cardinals aged 80 or over will not be eligible to take part in the Conclave which elects the next Pope.