Cardinal Bishops are members of the highest order within the College of Cardinals. From among their number they elect the Dean of the College, who, with the confirmation of the Pontiff, presides over its meetings.

The title Cardinal Bishop contains a two-fold historical reference. In the first place cardinal is a title given to a principal adviser to the Bishop of Rome. Its use appears to date from about the fourth century (300s). With time it came to be applied to the incumbents in certain major ecclesiastical offices associated with the See of Rome.

Since 1059, those appointed cardinals have been the exclusive electors of the Bishop of Rome. However, while their title still identifies cardinals by these ancient offices (deaneries, churches, dioceses), cardinals no longer have a formal role in their governance. They are today almost always bishops of dioceses or curial officials, not priests or deacons of Rome, and as cardinals they are papal electors and advisors. The title bishop is a reference to one of the suburban dioceses (called the suburbicarian sees) which make up the Roman ecclesiastical province. The bishops of these dioceses (the number has varied through history) appear to have played a role since the fourth century in consecrating and installing the Pope. In doing this they were presided over by one of their number, the Bishop of Ostia.

Today the actual bishops of the seven suburbicarian sees have no role in the election of the Pope. Instead, six Cardinal Bishops hold the title of those sees, with the Dean of the College of Cardinals holding the title of two sees, the See of Ostia and the See to which he had title prior to his election as Dean. In addition to these Cardinal Bishops, certain Patriarchs of Eastern Churches hold the rank of Cardinal Bishop.

Click a name to view a brief biography.

Cardinal Name
Ecclesial Office

Arinze, Francis

Titular Church: Suburcarian see of Velleteri-Segni

Native Country: Nigeria

Appointed By: John Paul II

Appointed On: 1985-05-25

Ecclesiastical Office: Prefect Emeritus, Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments

Cardinal Francis Arinze was born on November 1, 1932, in Eziowelle, Nigeria. He was ordained a priest in November 23, 1958. On August 29, 1965, he was made titular bishop of Fissiana and auxiliary bishop of Onitsha. He served as archbishop of Onitsha from from 1967 to 1984. In 1984 he became the pro-president of the Secretariate for Non-Christians (now the Council for Interreligious Dialogue). On May 25, 1985, he was created a cardinal, becoming titular deacon of St. John (della Pigna). He transferred to the order of cardinal priests on January 29, 1996. He was transfered to the Order of Cardinal Bishops on 25 April 2005 by Benedict XVI, to the suburcarian see of Velleteri-Segni, previously held by Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI). In 1985 he became president of the Council for Interreligious Dialogue. In the Roman Curia, he serves in the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation for Oriental Churches, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. He also serves on the Council for the Laity, the Council for Christian Unity, and the Pontifical Council for Culture. He is also a member of the International Eucharistic Congress. He was appointed Cardinal-Bishop of Velletri-Segni on 25 April 2005. The Cardinal served as Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments from 1 October 2002 to 9 December 2008. Having reached 80 years of age, he is no longer an elector.

Bertone, Tarcisio

Titular Church: Frascati

Native Country: Italy

Appointed By: John Paul II

Appointed On: 2003-10-21

Ecclesiastical Office: Secretary Emeritus of State

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone was born on December 2, 1934, in Italy. He is a theological expert, and has served in a number of offices of the Roman Curia. During the Jubilee Year, Bertone was asked by Pope John Paul II to oversee the publication of the third part of the "secret" of Fatima. He has served as president of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. On October 21, 2003, he was created a cardinal priest. His titular church is St. Mary, Helper in Via Tuscolana. He is Archbishop of Genoa, Italy. He was appointed Secretary of State, 15 September 2006, and on 4 April 2007 appointed Camerlengo of the Apostolic Chamber. On 15 October 2013, he retired as Secretary of State.  Having reached 80 years of age, he is no longer an elector.

Filoni, Fernando

Titular Church: Nostra Signora di Coromoto in San Giovanni di Dio

Native Country: Italy

Appointed By: Benedict XVI

Appointed On: 2012-02-18

Ecclesiastical Office: Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem

Cardinal Fernando Filoni was born on 15 April 1946 in Manduria, Italy. He was ordained a priest on 3 July 1970 and holds doctorates in philosophy and canon law. He entered the Diplomatic Service of the Holy See in 1981 and served in Sri Lanka, Iran, Brazil, Iraq and the Philippines, among other countries. Following his appointment as titular Archbishop of Volturno and Apostolic Nuncio in Iraq and in Jordan, he received Episcopal ordination on 19 March 2001. To convey the Church’s closeness to the people during the war in Iraq, Archbishop Filoni stayed at his post until March 2006 at considerable personal risk. He served as Apostolic Nuncio in the Philippines from February 2006 until his appointment as Substitute of the Secretariat of State on 9 June 2007. On 10 May 2011, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Then on 8 December 2019, Pope Francis appointed him Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

Naguib, Antonios

Titular Church:

Native Country: Egypt

Appointed By: Benedict XVI

Appointed On: 2010-11-20

Ecclesiastical Office: Patriarch of Alexandria (Coptic)

Cardinal Antonios Naguib was born in Samalout, Egyp, 7 March 1935. He studied at the Coptic Maadi seminary near Cairo, and at the Pontifical Urbanian University in Rome. On 30 October 1960, he was ordained a priest, and served a year as parish priest in Fikriyah. He then returned to Rome to earn degrees in theology and in Scripture. He taught Scripture at the Maadi seminary for 13 years. On 26 July 1977, he was appointed Bishop of Minya, and ordained Bishop, 9 September 1977. On 29 September 2002, he resigned as Bishop of Minya, and on 30 March 2006 was appointed Patriarch of Alexandria (Coptic). He was elevated to Cardinal on 20 November 2010, and as a Patriarch holds a Title equal to a sububaricarian see. Having turned 80 years of age, he is no longer an elector. 

Ouellet, P.S.S. Marc

Titular Church: Unassigned, but equal to the Title of a suburbicarian see.

Native Country: Canada

Appointed By: John Paul II

Appointed On: 2003-10-21

Ecclesiastical Office: Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops

Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., was born in Quebec on June 8, 1944. He was rector and professor at many major seminaries in Canada from 1972 until 1997. On March 3, 2001, he was elected bishop of Agropolu and was appointed secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. He was created a cardinal on October 21, 2003. His titular church is St. Mary in Traspontina. He became Archbishop of the metropolitan and primatial see of Quebec on November 15, 2003. He resigned as Archbishop on 30 June 2010 and on the same day was appointed Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. He was created and proclaimed Cardinal by St. John Paul II in the Consistory of 21 October 2003, with the Title of S. Maria in Traspontina (Holy Mary in Transpontina). On June 26th, 2018, with Rescriptum ex Audentia Ss.mi, the Holy Father Francis decided to co-opt Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., in the Order of Bishops, equating him in all respects to the Cardinals who were given the Title of a suburbicarian Church. He will turn 80 years of age in June 2024 and cease to be an elector.

Parolin, Pietro

Titular Church: Unassigned, but equal to the Title of a Suburbicarian See.

Native Country: Italy

Appointed By: Pope Francis

Appointed On: 2014-02-22

Ecclesiastical Office: Secretary of State

Pietro Parolin was born in Schiavon, Italy, on 17 January 1955. At the age of 14 he entered the seminary of Vicenza. He was ordained a priest on 27 April 1980. In 1983 he entered the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy and entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See on 1 July 1986, subsequently serving in Nigeria and Mexico. In 1986 he also obtained a degree in canon law at the Gregorian with a thesis on the Synod of Bishops. On 30 November 2002 John Paul II appointed him Undersecretary of the Section of the Secretariat of State for Relations with States, an office he held for nearly seven years. Expert in matters concerning the Middle East, he has worked specifically to build up and reinforce relations between the Holy See and Vietnam. He also contributed to reopening dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. In December 2008 he led the delegation that took part in the work of the Permanent Bilateral Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel. On 17 August 2009 he was appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Venezuela and was elevated to Archbishop with the titular episcopal see of Acquapendente. He received his episcopal ordination on 12 September 2009. On 31 August 2013 Pope Francis appointed him Secretary of State and he entered into office on 15 October. He is currently a member of the Congregation for Bishops and of the Commission of Cardinals overseeing the Institute for Works of Religion. Created and proclaimed Cardinal by Pope Francis in the consistory of 22 February 2014, he was given the Title of Santi Simone e Giuda Taddeo a Torre Angela (Sts. Simon and Jude Thaddeus at Torre Angela). On June 26th, 2018, with Rescriptum ex Audentia Ss.mi, the Holy Father Francis decided to co-opt Cardinal Pietro Parolin in the Order of Bishops, equating him in all respects to the Cardinals who were given the Title of a suburbicarian Church.

Raï, Béchara Boutros

Titular Church: Patriarch of Antiochia (Maronite), Lebanon

Native Country: Lebanon

Appointed By: Pope Benedict XVI

Appointed On: 2012-11-24

Ecclesiastical Office: Patriarch of Antioch for Maronites, Lebanon

Cardinal Béchara Boutros Raï was born on 25 February 1940 at Himlaya in the Archeparchy of Antelias, (the same village in which Rafqa Arrayes, the first Maronite saint, was born). He studied at the Jesuits' Notre Dame de Jambour College. He made his perpetual profession in the Mariamite Maronite Order on 31 July 1962. He was then sent to Rome to study philosophy and theology at the Pontifical Lateran University where he earned a doctorate in canon law and a licence in sacred theology. He was ordained a priest on 3 September 1967. For several years he was in charge of the Mariamite scholasticate in Rome, while serving as director of the Arab Language programmes of Vatican Radio. He returned to Lebanon in 1975, at the beginning of the war, to direct the College of Notre Dame in Louayzé, a town in which he founded and supervised the Foreign Languages Institute. He then served as a judge on the Patriarchal Tribunal and as head of Santa Rita School in Dbayé. On 2 May 1986 the Maronite Synod elected him Patriarchal Vicar (equivalent to Auxiliary Bishop) and the Pope assigned him the titular episcopal see of Caesarea Philippi. He was ordained a bishop on 12 July 1986. On 9 June 1990, he was transferred to the new Eparchy of Jbeil (Byblos) for Maronites and, in 2003, was appointed Secretary of the Permanent Synod of the Maronite Church. In this capacity he took part in several Synods in Rome, including the Special Assembly for the Middle East in October 2010, at which he was elected to the Post-Synodal Council. In 2009, he became President of the Communications Commission of the Maronite Synod and promoted the television network TeleLumière-Noursat. On 15 March 2011 he was elected the 77th successor of St Maron at the Extraordinary Synod in Bkerké, north-east of Beirut. On 24 March that same year Benedict XVI granted him the Ecclesiastica Communio, which he had requested, complying with can. 76 § 2 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches. This special bond with the Church of Rome was publicly confirmed the following 15 April — on the occasion of his first visit to the Pope — at a Divine Liturgy in St Peter's Basilica at which Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, presided as Papal Delegate. On 1 June 2011, Benedict XVI appointed him a member of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura and on 7 March that year, of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches. Following the Arab Spring and at the height of the civil war in neighbouring Syria, Patriarch Raï had the joy of welcoming the Pope on his Visit to Lebanon last September for the presentation of the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente. On that occasion he described Beirut as "a city that witnessed to the peaceful coexistence of Muslims and Christians in the Arab world". He was created and proclaimed Cardinal by Benedict XVI in the consistory of 24 November 2012. As a Patriarch he holds Title equal to a Cardinal of a sububaricarian see. 

Re, Giovanni Battista

Titular Church: Suburbicarian See of Sabina Poggio-Mirteto

Native Country: Italy

Appointed By: John Paul II

Appointed On: 2001-02-21

Ecclesiastical Office: Prefect Emeritus Congregation for Bishops

Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re was born on January 30, 1934, in Borno (Brescia), Italy. He was ordained a priest on March 3, 1957. He earned a doctorate in canon law and taught in the Brescia Seminary. He entered the Holy See diplomatic service, and served in Panama and Iran. He was recalled for service in the Secretariat of State. He served as secretary for the Congregation of Bishops in 1987. On November 7, 1987, he was made a titular Archbishop. In 1989, he was a sostituto for the Secretariat of State. On September 16, 2000, he became Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops and President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. He was created a cardinal on February 21, 2001. His titular church is the Twelve Holy Apostles. He retired as Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America on 30 June 2010. He has served in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Commission for Vatican City State. Having reached the age of 80, he is no longer an elector.

Sako, His Beatitude Louis Raphaël I

Titular Church: Archbisop of Baghdad

Native Country: Iraq

Appointed By: Pope Francis

Appointed On: 2018-06-28

Ecclesiastical Office: Patriarch of Babylon for Chaldeans

Cardinal Sako was born, 4 July 1948, in Zakho, Iraq. After completing his primary studies in Mosul, he attended the local Saint Jean's Seminary under the direction of the Dominican Fathers. He was ordained a priest on 1 June 1974, serving in parish ministry at the Cathedral of Mosul until 1979. He was sent to Rome and obtained a doctorate in Eastern Patrology in 1983. He later obtained a doctorate in history from the Sorbonne in Paris and a license in Islamic jurisprudence from the Pontifical Institute for Arab and Islamic Studies, Rome. From 1997 to 2002, he served as rector of the Patriarchal Seminary in Baghdad. He then served in the parish of Perpetual Help, Mosul, until his election as Archbishop of Kerkük by the Chaldean Church, 24 October 2002, to which Pope John Paul II granted assent on 27 September 2003. He was ordained a bishop on 14 November 2003. On 31 January 2013, after the resignation of the Patriarch His Beatitude Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, Archbishop Sako was elected Patriarch, receiving the Ecclesiastica Communio from the Pontiff on 1 February. He is President of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Iraq and a member of: the 14th Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops; of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches; and of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. Created and proclaimed Cardinal by Pope Francis in the consistory of 28 June 2018, as a Patriarch he holds title equal to a Cardinal of a suburbicarian see.

Saraiva Martins, C.M.F. José

Titular Church: Bishop of Palestrina

Native Country: Portugal

Appointed By: John Paul II

Appointed On: 2001-02-21

Ecclesiastical Office: Prefect Emeritus, Congregation for the Causes of the Saints

Cardinal José Martins Saraiva, C.M.F., was born in Gagos do Jarmelo, Portugal, on January 16, 1932. He was ordained a priest for the Claretians on March 16, 1957. He taught at the Claretian seminary in Marino, Italy, at the Claretianum in Rome, and at the Pontifical Urbanian University, where he served as rector from 1977 to 1980, from 1980 to 1983, and from 1986 to 1988. On May 26, 1988, he became secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education and titular archbishop of Thuburnica. He was consecrated as archbishop on July 2, 1988. On May 30, 1998, he became the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. He was created a cardinal on February 21, 2001. He holds the title of deacon of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. He retired as Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints July 9, 2008. He has also served on the Congregation of Bishops, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and the Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers. Having reached 80 years of age, he is no longer an elector.

Sodano, Angelo

Titular Church: Suburbicarian Sees of Ostia and of Albano

Native Country: Italy

Appointed By: John Paul II

Appointed On: 1991-06-28

Ecclesiastical Office: Dean of the College of Cardinals; Secretary of State emeritus;

Cardinal Angelo Sodano was born in Isola d'Asti, Italy, on November 23, 1927. He was ordained a priest on September 23, 1950. In 1959, he entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See, and served in Ecuador and Uruguay. He was ordained titular archbishop of Nova diCesare on January 15, 1978. From 1978 until 1988, he served as nuncio to Chile. He was secretary of the Council for Relations with States from 1988 until 1990, and pro-Secretary of State from December 1, 1990 until 1991. On June 28, 1991, he was created a cardinal. His titular church is S. Maria Nuova. On January 10, 1994, he transferred to the order of cardinal Bishops, as titular bishop of the suburbicarian see of Albano (while retaining his title to S. Maria Nuova). He became Secretary of State of June 29, 1991. He was elected the Cardinal Dean of the College of Cardinals, and confirmed in that office on 30 April 2005 by Pope Benedicxt XVI. His is Secretary of State emeritus of the Roman Curia. He serves in the Congregation of Bishops, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation for Oriental Churches, the Commission for Vatican City State, and the Institute for Works of Religion. Having reached 80 years of age, he is no longer an elector.