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  • A cardinal is a senior ecclesiastical leader, an ecclesiastical prince, and usually an ordained bishop of the Roman Catholic Church. The cardinals of the Church are collectively known as the College of Cardinals. The duties of the cardinals include attending the meetings of the College and making themselves available individually or in groups to the pope as requested. Most have additional duties, such as leading a diocese or archdiocese or managing a department of the Roman Curia. A cardinal's other main function is electing the pope when the see becomes vacant. During the sede vacante, the period between a pope's death or resignation and the election of his successor, the day-to-day governance of the Church as a whole is in the hands of the College of Cardinals. The right to enter the conclave of cardinals where the pope is elected is limited to those who have not reached the age of 80 years by the day the vacancy occurs. In 1059, the right of electing the pope was reserved to the principal clergy of Rome and the bishops of the seven suburbicarian sees.

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