History of Catholic Cardinals: Their Power and Number

The Roman Development of the Office of Cardinal

Having just returned from teaching Roman Church History in Rome, I’ve been reviewing the history of Roman cardinals. Here’s a brief timeline:

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  • 6th century – In Rome the first cardinals were the seven deacons of the seven regions of the city. The deacons, not the presbyters, had immediate access to the Pope of Rome. This is why deacons in Rome were granted the privilege of wearing a more dignified vestment (the dalmatic) than that of the priest (the chasuble).
  • 8th century – The term “cardinal” is attached to the senior priest (pastor) in each of the titular churches of Rome. For the significance of titulus in relation to the churches in Rome, see my book The Eternal City where I relate how the Latin term titulus was used to denote licensed altars in the city of Rome based on the Old Latin (pre-Vulgate) translation of the Old Testament.
  • By decree of the Lateran Council of 769, only a cardinal priest or deacon was eligible to become pope. This is no longer the case. Any Catholic male may be elected as Pope. Laity could not participate in the election. Armed men could not be present for papal elections.
  • 9th century – Pope Stephen V (816-17) decreed that all 7 cardinal bishops were bound to sing Mass on rotation at the high altar at St. Peter’s Basilica, one every Sunday. He also mentions the distinction of cardinal bishops, cardinal priests, and cardinal deacons.
  • 11th century – In 1059, during the pontificate of Nicholas II, cardinal bishops were given the right to elect the pope under the Papal Bull In nomine Domini. Emperors could not nominate candidates or veto a winner. Emperors could still “confirm” the election. Election must take place in Rome. Pope is pope from moment of election and consent and not from coronation or enthronement.
  • 12th century – At the Third Lateran Council in 1179 the right to the whole body of cardinals – bishops, priests and deacons – to elect the pope was re-established for the first time in over 100 years.
    Also, a 2/3 majority was required for a valid election.
  • 13th century – In 1244, cardinals were granted the privilege of wearing the red hat by Pope Innocent IV.

Cardinals in Post-Tridentine Era

  • The chief clergy of any diocese were often called cardinals. However, the use of the title “cardianl” was reserved for the cardinals of Rome in 1567 by Pope Saint Pius V.
  • In 1517, Pope Leo X added 31 additional cardinals, bringing the total to a staggering 65 cadinals!
  • Pope Sixtus V (1585-1590) capped the number of cardinals to 70, comprising of:
    • 6 cardinal bishops,
    • 50 cardinal priests,
    • 14 cardinal deacons.
    • This was modeled on the Sandhedrin pattern of Moses and the Old Testament – seventy elders to assist in judging Israel.
  • During the pontificate of Pope Saint John XXIII, the limit exceeded 70.
  • 1965 Pope Paul VI also increased the number of cardinal bishops by giving that rank to patriarchs of the Eastern Catholic Churches.
  • In 1970, Pope Paul VI raised the number of cardinal electors at a cap of 120 cardinal electors while at the same time fixing the maximum age for cardinal electors at the age of 80 years. Hence, for the first time in history, elderly cardinals could no longer vote.
  • Of the 117 cardinals under the age of 80 at the time of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation, 115 participated in the conclave of March 2013 that elected his successor. The two who did not participate were Julius Riyadi Darmaatmadja (for health reasons) and Keith O’Brien (following allegations of sexual misconduct).
  • As of 9 July 2016, there are a total of 212 cardinals, of whom 113 are cardinal electors under the age 80.

Pray for our current Holy Father Francis of Rome, and pray for our Cardinals who have been chosen by God to elect the next Holy Father.

And I just can’t resist, here’s the video from a week ago of Pope Francis kissing my baby: Click here to watch.

Video: Pope Francis Kissed My Baby Margaret Today in Rome!

This morning, the Vicar of Christ and Successor of Saint Peter took our baby daughter Margaret Grace Carol Marshall (“Carol” for Karol Wojtyła aka Saint John Paul II  – she was born on Saint John Paul II’s feast day).

In the video below you’ll see how Pope Francis stops the Popemobile when he looks and sees my wife Joy holding our baby Margaret. Next he motions for our baby Margaret to be brought up to him in the Popemobile. He kisses her, blesses her, and then laughs. You can then see me (Taylor) shake hands with the Holy Father. At the end you can see Joy’s ecstatic mother’s smile after the Vicar of Christ on earth has just kissed her baby girl.

Here’s the video (click here to being watching it):

Please pray for our Holy Father Pope Francis that God might reward him for his kindness and generosity to our baby and our family.

Also, my son Becket had his First Communion in Saint Peter’s Basilica about an hour before this happened with the Pope. It’s a red letter day!!!


Free Catholic Webinar Class: Catholic Rome and Papacy 101

You’re invited to this week’s NSTI Catholic Webinar class on Rome and the Early Papacy 101.

This webinar is a “mini-version” of the class that I teach to Catholic Seminarians in Rome. This class is complimentary; however, space is limited and you must reserve your spot before Wednesday. You can register (reserve your spot) by clicking here.

Early Papacy 101 Class with Dr Marshall


  • The Old Testament and Rome
  • Tradition of Peter in Rome
  • Popes after Peter in Rome
  • Importance of St Clement of Rome
  • The Power of the Bishop of Rome in 2nd Century
  • EVERYONE THAT ATTENDS WILL RECEIVE a pdf Handout on these Catholic topics.

This webinar is a “mini-version” of the class that I teach to Catholic Seminarians in Rome. Space is limited and you must reserve your spot before Wednesday. You can register (reserve your spot) by clicking here.

Register here button

PHOTO: Margaret’s Latin Baptism

Thanks for praying for Margaret. She was born on Oct 22 (St John Paul II) and baptized on Oct 31 (Vigil of All Saints)!

Saint John Paul II issued a document asking parents to baptize infants quickly “within weeks of birth.” Learn more about Saint John Paul II on not delaying baptism by clicking here.

Here’s the “House of Marshall” after the Baptism (thanks to Paul Hunker for this photo):

Baptism of Margaret Marshall

L-R Marshall Family: Mary Claire, Elizabeth, Rose, Joy and Baby Margaret, Becket, Jude, Blaise, Taylor, Gabriel. Priest: Father Tom Longua

Margaret is officially a little saint – filled with the Holy Trinity and sanctifying grace. And check out this photo of Margaret 2 days after birth with this shadow of a cross on her forehead. Pretty cool. I don’t how this happened but it’s a good reminder that the baptized are marked with the sign of the cross:


Thanks for praying for Margaret! She’s daddy’s little pearl.

If you’re a Member of the New Saint Thomas Institute, be sure to check out class on Baptism, Infants, and Thomas Aquinas on Limbo:

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And here’s a Youtube video Blaise’s baptism according to the 1962 Rite:

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Will Pope Allow Divorce and Remarriage for the Sake of Conscience?

Regarding the Conscience Kasperites™

The 2015 Roman Synod on the Family has come to a close and I’ve had a chance to review the document. As I stated back in July, the strategy of revisionist Kasperites (named after their proponent Cardinal Walter Kasper) in the Catholic Church will be to maintain official doctrine, but to change pastoral practice in the name of “mercy” so that the doctrine becomes de facto disregarded. We saw this play out during the Synod:

Cardinal Walter Kasper (age 82)

Cardinal Walter Kasper (age 82)

Thanks be to God, that the bishops at the Synod voted against the “Kasper Proposal.” If you need to catch up on what’s going down, you might read Father Z’s article on the Final Report Paragraphs 84-85. All the meat in this debate is found in those paragraphs.


In 1993 Cardinal Kapser signed a pastoral letter which requested that divorced and civilly remarried German Catholics be able to receive the Eucharist under pastoral review. Then Cardinal Ratzinger and Pope Saint John Paul II strongly disapproved. So this has been in the works for over 22 years!

At Synod of Bishops in 2014, Cardinal Kasper told reporters that since African, Asian, and Middle Eastern countries have a “taboo” against homosexuality, “they should not tell us too much what we have to do.” When the quote become public, Kasper denied having made the comment. The reporter Edward Pentin later produced a recording of the conversation, which verified that the Cardinal had made such a statement.

What is “Conscience” and How It Matters in This Debate

The “Conscience Kasperites”™ will use the slogan “conscience is inviolable” to license laymen, priests, and bishops (and popes?) to allow Catholics to openly disagree with Catholic teaching. Recently, Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago seems to serve as the American Apostle of “Conscience Kasperites”.

Archbishop Blase Cupich, age 66

Archbishop Blase Cupich, age 66

Archbishop Blase Cupich (pronounced SOO-Pitch) of Chicago (papal delegate to the Roman Synod on the Family) has said that civilly divorced and remarried Catholics should “come to a decision in good conscience” and that the Church should “help them move forward and to respect that.”

Thankfully, the Catholic Church didn’t allow King Henry VIII to “come to a decision in good conscience” and “respect that” with regard to his marriage(s). King Henry VIII, according to his own testimony, was 100% convinced that his union with Catherine of Aragon was not only null but contrary to God’s will. But the Catholic Church didn’t “help him move forward and respect that.” Schism followed but the Catholic Church stood firm for the teaching of Christ. It was the pastoral thing to do.

The Church and her bishops (and laity) don’t have magic goggles that allow them to inspect as to whether a person is living according to his or her conscience. Kasper and Cupich don’t know if a couple are living in accord with their conscience. This is why we Catholics have objective rules and tangible sacraments. Canon law and infallible magisterial teaching are the instruments of pastoral direction.

Father Z also spoke of the new doctrinal need for Catholics to get deep into the orthodox teaching on “conscience,” because the doctrine of conscience being advocated by the”Conscience Kasperites”™ is not the doctrine found in Saint John Paul II, nor in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Conscience is “con+scientia = “with knowledge”

Conscience is a word formed by two Latin words: con/cum (with) and scientia (knowledge). It is the judgment of reason by which we knowledgeably jude our moral actions. Here is what the Catechism says about conscience [with my comments in red]:

1796 Conscience is a judgment of reason by which the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act. [conscience judges certain concrete acts – not tendencies or lifestyles]

1797 For the man who has committed evil, the verdict of his conscience remains a pledge of conversion and of hope. [conscience is a pledge toward conversion]

1798 A well-formed conscience is upright and truthful. [conscience must be well-formed] It formulates its judgments according to reason, in conformity with the true good willed by the wisdom of the Creator. Everyone must avail himself of the means to form his conscience.

1799 Faced with a moral choice, conscience can make either a right judgment in accordance with reason and the divine law [this is the part of the CCC that “Conscience Kasperites”™ reject] or, on the contrary, an erroneous judgment that departs from them.

1800 A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience.

1801 Conscience can remain in ignorance or make erroneous judgments. Such ignorance and errors are not always free of guilt. [“Conscience Kasperites”™ also dismiss this truth that having a bad conscience does NOT necessarily remove moral guilt]

1802 The Word of God is a light for our path [the Word of God, the Bible is our path – so a pastor or bishop should read the word of God to us in each of these moral dilemmas so that we can make a right and true judgment]. We must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. This is how moral conscience is formed.

What’s the take home here? A conscience is well formed “with knowledge” based on the Word of God, prayer, and truth faith.

It is literally impossible for a Catholic to read the appropriate passages in Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church and conclude in their conscience:

  • committing a homosexual act today is morally good.
  • today I can vote to fund abortion with tax-payer funds and not be guilty of grave sin.
  • if I’m still in a sacramental marriage “till death do us part,” I can have sex tonight with someone besides my living spouse.
  • to masturbate at this moment is morally permissible.
  • I can exploit my workers and not pay them because my conscience doesn’t bother me. It must not be a sin.
  • I am aware that the Catholic Church calls contraception an “intrinsic evil,” but my conscience tells me it’s a good thing for my marriage and well-being.

Please hold fast to the authentic Catholic teaching of Saint John Paul II. The conscience is “man’s most secret core, and his sanctuary.” Yet sanctuaries must be designed, decorated, and maintained.

Ignorance does mitigate guilt and can exclude it altogether. But pastorally, a shepherd (bishop or pastor) should feed his flock with the truth, and work to form their consciences with knowledge. 

Hard truth: If a parish is full of people with “badly formed consciences,” then what’s the proper pastoral response?

If my children grow up thinking that lying is okay or stealing little pieces of candy from the pharmacy is “no big deal” – then that’s my bad as a parent. I failed them as a father if they say, “When Dad saw us stealing candy at Walmart, he simply said: ‘Follow your conscience on the matter.'” But if they steal candy and know, “My father taught me not to do this, but I’m going to do it any way,” then I did my job and that’s their guilt.

Reverend and Spiritual Fathers, do your spiritual children know right from wrong? If you’ve been Pastor for 10 years and 90% of your congregation honestly thinks contraception is morally permissible, then you’ve failed them as a spiritual father. The deserve to be taught the Catholic truth in a careful, patient, and loving way. Caritas in veritate.

If a layman says, “Yes, Father, I understand that the Church teaches that [fill in the blank] is an intrinsic evil and/or disordered but for me in my conscience it’s good…so I’m going to keep doing it anyway, and I’ll keep coming to Holy Communion,” then that pastor should pray and work so as to correct the erroneous conscience. He cannot say “I’m glad that you’ve come to a decision in good conscience…and I want to help you move forward and I respect that.”

That’s not how father’s speak with children that they love.

What Can You Do – 3 Step Program?

Step 1: Read the section in the Catechism on Conscience in full. It will take you less than 2 minutes to read. Here it is: This is your homework (CCC 1776-1802).

Step 2: Familiarize yourself with the way that Conscience Kasperites™ are using the word “conscience” to promote relativism. Relativists say, “What’s right for me may not be right for you.” Conscience Kasperites™ also affirm this teaching but they attempt to Christianize it by appealing to malformed consciences: “What’s right for your conscience may not line up with Church teaching, and that’s okay.”

Step 3: Pray and be joyful. Don’t be stressed out over this. The theological enemies of the Catholic Church always fade away. The truth of God abides forever. They will lose this battle. Their disagreement will only create a great movement of truth against it.

Question: Have you met Conscience Kasperites™? Are you ready? Do you think “conscience” is being abused? You can leave a comment by clicking here.


Who was the Second Pope: Intro to Saint Linus

And his thoughts on chapel veils...

We all know that Saint Peter was the first Pope, but who took up the reins after the Emperor Nero crucified Peter upside down below the Vatican Hill?

Tradition identifies Saint Linus as Pope #2. In today’s video, I give you a short intro into this sainted pope and martyr – who shares a feast day with Padre Pio:

If you don’t see the video in your email or rss, please click here to watch it.

If you’re interested in going on a pilgrimage to Rome with me in 2016, please click here for details.


You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Pope Pius IX’s Secret Vist to America in 1849

The aquatic entry of a Pope onto America Territory

With Pope Francis arriving in America, there are many media sources recollecting the “first” papal visit to the United States by Pope Paul VI. But this isn’t quite correct. Back in 1849, there was a covert visit to the United States by Pope Pius IX. Here’s a video explaining it, or you can read on below for a full explanation of this little known historical fact:

If you don’t see the video in your email or RSS, click here.

I’ve only had the opportunity to visit the White House once and after lunch I was shown a portrait of a large ship flying the American and Papal flags. It depicts the first papal visit to the territory of the United States in the person of Pope Pius IX in 1849.

The American USS Constitution (known affectionally as “Old Ironsides”) received onboard King Ferdinand II and Pope Pius IX on Aug 1 1849 giving them a 21-gun salute. By stepping on board an American vessel, the Holy Father officially entered American territory. A commissioned military ship has the same legal status as a piece of political soil. So while Pius IX did not actually enter the borders of the United States, he did technically step foot onto American territory.

The King and Pope received a full tour of Old Ironsides and was even hosted in Captain Gwinn’s quarters. The Holy Father personally met the Catholic sailors on board, blessed them, and spoke with them through an English/Italian interpreter.

To show his appreciation, Pope Pius IX struck a silver medal bearing the pontiff’s coat of arms along with the coat of arms of Captain Gwinn. The Holy Father also sent papally blessed Rosaries to the crew of the Constitution. 

When news reached the United States that the Pope of Rome had received hospitality on an American war vessel, the Navy was furious. Commodore Morgan sought to have Captain Gwinn disciplined. However, Gwinn died months later before disciplinary measures could be executed. I’m sure Saint Peter returned the hospitality to Captain Gwinn…

Question: Did you know that a Pope had “entered America” back in 1849? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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[Catholic Video] Do Catholics Reject Separation of Church and State? Yes

Do Catholics reject the principle of Separation of Church and State? Some might be surprised to learn that the “separation of Church and State” was doctrinally condemned by Pope Pius IX in 1852 and again by Pope Saint Pius X in 1907.

In this sample New Saint Thomas video I explain what these Popes taught, why they taught it, and how we as Catholics can better understand the relationship between secular nations and the Catholic Church. If you love your nation and Church, then you need to know this:

[HD Video] Church and State: Religion and Secularism in the Public Square

From NSTI Module 4: Atheism and Secularism of the Catholic Certificate in Apologetics. Taylor explains the papal teaching on secular states and the Catholic Church:

Having trouble seeing the video in your RSS feed or email? Click here to watch the video.

Question: Were you aware that the Catholic Church had social teaching on the separation of Church and State? Do you think that the solution in the video is helpful? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Message for those of you that are not yet Members of the New Saint Thomas Institute:

Fall Enrollment for new members to the New Saint Thomas Institute (NSTI) ends at 11:59pm on Tuesday September 15. There are less than 59 spots left at the reduced tuition rate with the bonuses. If you have friends or family who would like join, please share this post with them. Here’s the link for Fall Enrollment with the bonuses and tuition discount: special link for joining the New Saint Thomas Institute.]

How the Home-screen looks of our NSTI Certificate in Catholic Apologetics:

NSTI Apologetics Screen


Is Pope Francis Allowing Abortion to Be Absolved? (and SSPX News)

I’m pretty excited about Pope Francis’ upcoming Year of Mercy. The news just came out about his decree that all priests will be given faculties to absolve certain “reserved sins,” and the media is making a mess of it because it relates to abortion.

A non-Catholic reader asks:

What’s up with the Pope on forgiving abortion? I thought you couldn’t forgive until holy year [of Mercy] starts on December 8 2015.”

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 4.03.31 PMThere’s a lot of confusion on the Pope’s recent announcement about the new jurisdiction being granted universally to priests in the case of abortion. The confusion centers on the Catholic teaching of “reserved sins.”

Reserved sins are those that a normal parish priest cannot absolve.

For example, if you try to assassinate the Pope or you purposefully desecrate a Eucharist Host in a Wiccan liturgy, these sins are “reserved.” The local priest cannot simply give you absolution and send you on your way.

Canon Law states that when a woman has an abortion, she and all those who aided her (doctors, nurses, spouses, and anyone who paid for it) are automatically excommunicated (latae sententiae) from the Catholic Church.

So abortion is both a mortal sin and a canonical crime leading to excommunication. So the sin must be absolved and the canonical censure must be removed.

Historically, the crime and sin of abortion was “reserved” to the local bishop. This means that the local priest had to involve the bishop before absolution was granted.

In most places in our current time, the local bishop has dispensed with this and has deputized all his priests to absolve the sin of abortion without referring the case to the bishop.

What Pope Francis is generously decreeing is that universally, all over the world, even if the local bishop has not deputized his priests to absolve abortion, the Pope is de facto granting direct jurisdiction for priests to absolve the sin of abortion starting Dec 8.

Pope Francis on SSPX:

In other news, the Pope has stated that the priests of the Society of Saint Pius X will be granted faculties directly by the Holy Father to absolve sinners. Previously SSPX priests did not have canonical jurisdiction over souls and thus they could not validly grant absolution. Pope Francis’ decree for the Year of Mercy now extends faculties to the priests of the SSPX. Good news for them!

Question: Were you aware of “reserved sins” previously? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Fall Enrollment for Catholic online classes at the New Saint Thomas Institute is open. Earn your Catholic Certificate in Theology. Over 75 Catholic video and audio lessons. 36% off tuition. $119 in bonuses. Join an army of 1,900 students in the New Saint Thomas Institute. Sale and enrollment ends soon. To learn more or sign up, click here.


Why do Popes Change Their Names?

This morning I was so excited to begin teaching a class for the Rome Experience at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross (Santa Croce) in Rome. All of the seminarians are top-shelf Catholics and gentlemen. It’s an honor to be here with them.

In this morning’s second session on “The Theology of Rome,” (which is covered in book form here), we studied the second chapter of Daniel and explored the role of the unhewn stone that destroys the pagan sovereign kingdom’s over Israel – climaxing in the Roman Empire. The Stone is Christ, but it is instrumentally Saint Peter (Kepha in Aramaic or Petros in Greek) when we appreciate the Roman context of the prophecy.

One of the students raised an excellent question: “Why do Popes choose new names?” Here’s where the tradition got started:

Pope Mercury? Try again…Pope John II

Johannes_IIOn January 2 AD 533, a priest of Rome named Mercurius was elected as the Pope. He felt, however, that it would be unbecoming of the Holy See to have a Pope named after a Roman god “Mercury.” It would sound strange to Roman ears. Think of saying something like “Pope Jupiter” or “Pope Neptune.” So this priest opted not to be called “Pope Mercury” and instead changed his name when he became Pope.

Not all Popes after Mercury chose new names. However, those with extremely non-Roman names (think Germanic Popes) often chose Roman names assimilate into their Roman context. Pope Adalbert just sounds wrong.

Mercury chose the name “John” to honor his papal predecessor Pope John I who died in AD 526. Incidentally, Pope Saint John I was the first Pope to visit Constantinople while serving as Pope.

Pope John II (Mercury) is notable in Church History because obtained from the Emperor Justinian his orthodox profession of the Catholic Faith and his repudiation of the Monophysite heresy.

  • Fun Fact #1: The last pope to use his personal baptismal name was Pope Marcellus II in 1555.
    Fun Fact #2: There hadn’t been a new Papal name since AD 913 until Pope Francis! Before Pope Francis, Popes always chose names from the recycled list of previous Papal names. I supposed that “John Paul” is technically a new name, but it’s also a compound name of two previously uses Papal names.

Question: What Papal name would you choose for the next Pope and why? Which would I choose? I love Pope Leo XIII (by the way, will somebody please canonize him!), so I’d like the next Pope to be Pope Leo XIV. Plus, Leo is a very regal name. So…what named would you like to see for the next Holy Father. You can leave a comment by clicking here.