Dean of the College of Cardinals

From Academic Kids

The Dean of the College of Cardinals is the president of the College of Cardinals in the Roman Catholic Church and as such is always a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church of the episcopal order. The Dean is not necessarily the longest-serving member of the whole College (who might never become a Cardinal Bishop). It was for centuries customary for the longest-serving of the six cardinal bishops of suburbicarian dioceses to be Dean, and this was in fact required by canon law from 1917 until Pope Paul VI empowered the six bishops to elect him from among their number in 1965. This election (a formality until John Paul II's time) must be confirmed by the Pope. While the Dean (or in his absence or inability the Subdean) presides over the College of Cardinals, he has no power of governance over the other cardinals. Instead he functions as primus inter pares in the college. There is no mandatory retirement age for the position.

It is the Dean's responsibility to summon the conclave to elect a new Pope when the previous one dies or resigns, which he presides over unless he is too old to vote in it. According to Canon 355 (from the Latin Code of Canon Law 1983), if the newly-elected Supreme Pontiff is not already a bishop, it is the right of the Dean to ordain him as such. If the Dean is unable, then the right falls to the Sub-Dean, and then to the senior cardinal of the episcopal order.

According to section 4 of Canon 350, the Cardinal Dean has "the title of the diocese of Ostia, together with that of any other church to which he already has a title." The Cardinal Dean, then, continues to hold the title of his former suburbicarian diocese as well as being titular Bishop of Ostia. This has been the case since 1914, by decree of St. Pius X—previous deans since 1150 had given up their prior suburbicarian see for the joint titles of Ostia and Velletri.

Deans of the Sacred College since the Council of Trent

Each name is followed by years of birth and death, then comma–separated years of cardinalate and deanship. Two recent deans have chosen to retire before dying, while one was elected Pope

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