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The College of Cardinals

The College of Cardinals comprises cardinals representing the global Roman Catholic church. Most are heads of major dioceses around the world or serve within the Vatican.

The College of Cardinals includes five continents and 68 countries, 50 of which have cardinal electors. Cardinals are generally appointed to be members of at least one Vatican agency, and occasionally all cardinals are summoned to Rome to discuss major issues facing the church.

When cardinals reach the age of 80, they retain membership in the college and the title of cardinal, but they lose an active role and cannot vote in a conclave to elect a new pope.

How many cardinals are there worldwide?

There are currently 109 active cardinals serving the global Catholic Church under the age of 80. Currently there are 83 living cardinals over the age of 80.

The maximum number of active cardinals, which can be changed by the pope, was raised to 120 by Pope Paul VI in 1973. When Pope John Paul II named cardinals in 1998, he allowed the number of voting cardinals to exceed 120 but reaffirmed that the normal maximum would continue to be 120.

*Prior to January 6, 2012 announcement, the College was comprised as follows:

Cardinals created by 80 yrs & more Electors Total
Pope Paul VI 4 - 4
Pope John Paul II 68 63 131
Pope Benedict XVI 11 46 57
Total 83 109 192