Given the news from the Vatican today about the latest crop of soon-to-be red hats, I thought I'd post a little item on cardinals that often goes missed.
1) "Cardinals" were originally the diocesan clergy of the diocese of Rome; as such, there were bishops, deacons and presbyters. So, even today, with Cardinals coming from all over the world and not just from Rome, we still have three ranks of Cardinals: Cardinal-Bishops, Cardinal-Priests, and Cardinal-Deacons.
2) This is true, even though the vast majority of Cardinals are actually bishops; their cardinal-rank is different. For example, most Cardinals who serve at the Vatican are bishops by ordination and Cardinal-Bishops by appointment. Most Cardinals who serve as diocesan bishops (like newly-minted Cardinal-designate Donald Wuerl of the Archdiocese of Washington, DC) are bishops by ordination but Cardinal-Priest by cardinatial rank. And yes, a cardinal can be "promoted" from Cardinal-Deacon to Cardinal-Priest to Cardinal-Bishop (and still remain a bishop by ordination); confused yet? Finally, there are usually seven cardinal-Deacons: bishops who are assigned to the seven diaconal churches of Rome. It is always the senior of these Cardinal-Deacons who has the task of announcing to the world the election and name of the new pope.
Now that we have that out of our system, we can get back to more important matters!