Cardinal Dean

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Giovanni Battista Re , Cardinal Dean since January 2020

Cardinal Dean (actually Dean of the Holy College , Latin Decanus Sacri Collegii ) is the name for the chairman of the Cardinals College . The second highest office of the Roman Catholic Church after the Pope dates back to the 12th century.

Position in the College of Cardinals

The cardinal dean is the highest-ranking cardinal bishop and thus the highest-ranking cardinal , but has neither authority nor jurisdiction over the other cardinals, but is considered primus inter pares . In addition to the title of his suburbicarian diocese , he always receives the title of Cardinal Bishop of Ostia .


The Cardinal Dean was since 1965 by Paul VI. in the Motu proprio Sacrum cardinalium consilio stipulation according to can. 352 §2 CIC elected by the six cardinal bishops who hold a suburbicarian diocese ( Albano , Frascati , Palestrina , Porto-Santa Rufina , Sabina-Poggio Mirteto , Velletri-Segni ) and the patriarchs of Eastern Catholic Churches who are endowed with the cardinal title . With a motu proprio of November 29, 2019, as a result of the expansion of the number of cardinal bishops , Pope Francis stipulated that in future all cardinal bishops are entitled to vote and that the term of office of the cardinal dean is limited to five years with possible re-election. The regulation came into force with Angelo Sodano's resignation as Cardinal Dean on December 21, 2019.

The election takes place as soon as the position of the cardinal dean is vacant (e.g. due to the end of the term of office, resignation, death or election to the position of Pope ) in a meeting of the cardinal bishops chaired by the sub dean, in which they then select a candidate from their group determine. The Pope is entitled to confirm the elected.


The Cardinal Dean is the representative of the College of Cardinals and is a resident of Rome .

During the vacancy he will also have important functions. The cardinal dean's task is then to inform the cardinals from all over the world after the death of the Pope and to call them to Rome for the conclave . He also reports the death of the Pope to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See and the heads of state of the nations concerned. He leads the daily general congregations until the beginning of the conclave . Usually he presides over the funeral of the late Pope. In addition, the Cardinal Dean presides over the election of the Pope and asks the candidate who has received the required number of votes: “ Acceptasne electionem de te canonice factam in Summum Pontificem? ”(German:“ Do you accept your canonical election as Pope? ”). If the cardinal dean is not allowed to participate in the conclave because he has already passed the age of 80, or if he himself is the chosen one (see conclave 2005 ), this task is taken over by the cardinal sub- dean. If the latter does not take part in the conclave either, the next cardinal takes over.

After the election of a new Pope, the Cardinal Dean is still responsible for asking him what name he would like to give himself and, if he has not yet received the episcopal ordination, to consecrate him as Bishop in the conclave.

The funeral service on the occasion of the death of a cardinal is usually led by the cardinal dean or one of his representatives.

Since the election was confirmed by the Pope in January 2020, Giovanni Battista Re has been Cardinal Dean and Leonardo Sandri has been Sub-Dean of the College of Cardinals.

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: Kardinaldekan  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. RESCRIPTUM EX AUDIENTIA SS.MI: Rescritto del Santo Padre Francesco con cui ha deciso di cooptare nell'Ordine dei Vescovi, equiparandoli in tutto ai Cardinali insigniti del titolo di una Chiesa suburbicaria, i Cardinali Parolin, Sandri, Ouellet e Filoni. In: Daily Bulletin. Holy See Press Office, June 26, 2018, accessed December 21, 2019 (Italian).
  2. ^ Lettera Apostolica in the form of “Motu proprio” riguardante l'Ufficio del Decano del Collegio Cardinalizio. In: Daily Bulletin. Holy See Press Office, December 21, 2019, accessed December 21, 2019 (Italian).
  3. approvazione dell'elezione del Decano e del Vice Decano del Collegio Cardinalizio. In: Daily Bulletin. Holy See Press Office, January 25, 2020, accessed January 25, 2020 (Italian).