Every cardinal in his place: Internal ranking determines seating chart
Published: March 5, 2013
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In their general congregation meetings, in liturgical processions and in the Sistine Chapel, every cardinal has a place and each cardinal knows his place. The Vatican calls it "precedence," and it has little to do with the importance of the cardinal's day job, the size of his diocese or his age. But it has everything to do with timing. Cardinals are divided into a three-tier internal hierarchy: cardinal bishops, cardinal priests and cardinal deacons. It's the seating order for the general congregations in the Vatican synod hall. It will be the order they line up in for the procession at the Mass for the election of a new pope. The four patriarchs of Eastern Catholic churches who are cardinals are inserted in the ranking between the cardinal bishops and cardinal priests. Simply skipping the cardinals who were over 80 years of age as of Feb. 28, the precedence is the order the cardinal electors will process into the Sistine Chapel for the conclave, the order that determines where they will sit inside and the order in which they will cast their ballots. The cardinal bishops are six senior Latin-rite cardinals residing in Rome; one of them, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, is dean of the College of Cardinals. Diocesan bishops make up the bulk of the rank of cardinal priests, while cardinal deacons are mostly officials of the Roman Curia.
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