Requirements (Qualifications) To Be A Cardinal

Cardinal Francesco Peretti di Montalto (1595-1655) from Anura Guruge' The Next Pope
Cardinal Francesco Peretti di Montalto (1595-1655).

This is now covered in Canon 351 § 1 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law. This Canon says:
“The Roman Pontiff freely selects men to be promoted as cardinals, who have been ordained at least into the order of the presbyterate [i.e., priest] and are especially outstanding in doctrine, morals, piety, and prudence in action; those who are not yet bishops must receive episcopal consecration [i.e., consecrated as a bishop].”

So it is now pretty straightforward. You have to be at least a priest. Since you need to be at least 25 years old to be a priest, this requirement, also, adds an implicit age requirement, i.e., 25. So the days of early-teen cardinals is now definitely history.

Canon 351 tightens the cardinalate requirements from the 1917 Code. That required priestly ordination, along the lines that the 1983 Code now requires episcopal consecration. In theory, this meant that if a cardinal was not a priest, he needed to be ordained. The 1983 Code on the other hand appears to stress that already being a priest is a prerequisite.

[I would think that a pope, if he really so wished, could override this as well as any of the other requirements — though I do not see this happening. However, it is worth noting that the need for episcopal consecration is sometimes waived by a pope, particularly in the case of those created cardinals late in life. Check this post about ‘non-bishop cardinals.]

Hope this helps. I had seen a number of searches of late with people looking for data on this topic.

Anura Guruge

The Roman Pontiff freely selects men to be promoted as cardinals, who have been ordained at least into the order of the presbyterate and are especially outstanding in doctrine, morals, piety, and prudence in action; those who are not yet bishops must receive episcopal consecration.

2 thoughts on “Requirements (Qualifications) To Be A Cardinal”

  1. Greetings

    i have been reading your blogs for quite some time now and it is really very informative and interesting.however i found out that there are some bishops who were born post Vatican II or after 1962 who were ordained as priests be…low the age of 25 years old. some as young as 22
    years old. just want to share. here are some of the “underaged” ordained priests that i found:

    Bishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk

    Date Age Event

    5 May 1970 40.27 Born Stryj, Ukraine
    26 Jun 1994 24.1 Ordained Priest Priest of Lviv (Ukrainian), Ukraine

    Archbishop Bashar Matti Warda, C.SS.R.

    Date Age Event

    15 Jun 1969 41.16 Born Baghdad
    8 May 1993 23.9 Ordained Priest Priest of Baghdad (Chaldean), Iraq

    Bishop Venedykt (Valery) Aleksiychuk, M.S.U.

    Date Age Event

    16 Jan 1968 42.58 Born Borshchivka
    9 Oct 1991 23.7 Ordained Deacon Deacon of Lviv (Ukrainian), Ukraine
    29 Mar 1992 24.2 Ordained Priest

    Archbishop Emil Shimoun Nona

    Date Age Event

    1 Nov 1967 42.78 Born Alqosh
    11 Jan 1991 23.2 Ordained Priest

    Bishop Josaphat Oleh Hovera

    Date Age Event

    12 Sep 1967 42.92 Born Ivano-Frankivsk
    30 May 1990 22.7 Ordained Priest

    Bishop Marco Pérez Caicedo

    Date Age Event

    14 Jul 1967 43.08 Born Daule
    19 Mar 1992 24.7 Ordained Priest

    Bishop Anton Leichtfried

    Date Age Event

    30 May 1967 43.20 Born Scheibbs
    10 Oct 1991 24.4 Ordained Priest

    Bishop Bohdan Dzyurakh, C.SS.R.

    Date Age Event

    20 Mar 1967 43.40 Born Hirske
    17 Mar 1991 24.0 Ordained Priest

    Archbishop Cyril Vasil’, S.J.

    Date Age Event

    10 Apr 1965 45.34 Born Košice, Slovakia
    14 Jun 1987 22.2 Ordained Priest

    Bishop Edmar Peron

    Date Age Event

    4 Mar 1965 45.44 Born Maringá
    23 Jul 1989 24.4 Ordained Deacon Deacon of Maringá, Parana, Brazil
    21 Jan 1990 24.9 Ordained Priest

    Bishop Artur Grzegorz Mizinski

    Date Age Event

    13 Feb 1965 45.50 Born Opole Lubelskie
    23 Mar 1989 24.1 Ordained Priest

    Bishop Wojciech Polak

    Date Age Event

    19 Dec 1964 45.65 Born Inowroclaw
    13 May 1989 24.4 Ordained Priest

    Bishop Janusz Kaleta

    Date Age Event

    11 Oct 1964 45.84 Born Lazy, Poland
    4 Jun 1989 24.6 Ordained Priest

    Bishop Ernesto Maguengue

    Date Age Event

    2 Aug 1964 46.03 Born Chidenguele
    14 May 1989 24.8 Ordained Priest

    Bishop Milton Luis Tróccoli Cebedio

    Date Age Event

    3 Mar 1964 46.44 Born Montevideo
    8 May 1988 24.2 Ordained Priest

    Bishop Andrzej Czaja

    Date Age Event

    12 Dec 1963 46.67 Born Olesno-Wysoka
    25 Oct 1987 23.9 Ordained Deacon Deacon of Opole, Poland
    11 May 1988 24.4 Ordained Priest

    Bishop Milton Kenan Júnior

    Date Age Event

    24 Nov 1963 46.72 Born Taiúva
    5 Sep 1987 23.8 Ordained Priest

    Bishop Joseph M. Siegel

    Date Age Event

    18 Jul 1963 47.07 Born Joliet
    14 Apr 1988 24.7 Ordained Deacon Deacon of Joliet in Illinois, USA
    4 Jun 1988 24.9 Ordained Priest

    Bishop Nicodème Anani Barrigah-Benissan

    Date Age Event

    19 May 1963 47.23 Born Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
    8 Aug 1987 24.2 Ordained Priest

    Bishop Ägidius Zsifkovics

    Date Age Event

    16 Apr 1963 47.33 Born Güssing
    29 Jun 1987 24.2 Ordained Priest

    1. Dom,
      Thank YOU. This is excellent.
      Dom, I also kind of knew of bishops, even popes, who were ordained priests before they were 25.
      Take the case of the young Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli. He was ordained a priest when 22 years, 8 months, 2 weeks and 2 days.
      Also Eugenio Pacelli. 23 years and 1 month … EXACTLY.
      Similarly, Giovanni Battista Montini: 22 years, 8 months, 3 days.
      Now YOU mentioned Vatican II and 1962. Not sure whether there was any change to the age requirements during that period.
      Found this in the 1914 Catholic Encyclopedia (at
      “The bishops, who are the ministers of the sacrament ex officio, must inquire about the birth, person, age, title, faith, and moral character of the candidate. They must examine whether he is born of Catholic parents, and is spiritually, intellectually, morally, and physically fit for the exercise of the ministry. The age required by the canons is for subdeacons twenty-one, for deacons twenty-two, and for priests twenty-four years completed. The pope may dispense from any irregularity and the bishops generally receive some power of dispensation also with regard to age, not usually for subdeacons and deacons, but for priests. Bishops can generally dispense for one year, whilst the pope gives dispensation for over a year; a dispensation for more than eighteen months is but very rarely granted. “
      So at that point it was 24.
      Now, as you know, as of the 1983 Code, Canon 1031, requires 25 — BUT with dispensations.
      Interesting that many of the below 25 were from outside of Western Europe.
      This was good. THANK YOU.

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