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The position of cardinal is a rank of honour bestowed by popes on certain clergy, such as leaders within the Roman Curia, bishops serving in major cities and distinguished theologians.

For advice and assistance in governing, the pope may turn to the College of Cardinals.

a small city-state entirely enclaved within the city of Rome, which is an entity distinct from the Holy See.

The largest and most well known is the Latin Church, with more than 1 billion members worldwide.

Relatively small in terms of adherents compared to the Latin Church, are the 23 self-governing Eastern Catholic Churches with a combined membership of 17.3 million as of 2010 The Latin Church is governed by the pope and diocesan bishops directly appointed by him.

The triple crown papal tiara symbolises the triple power of the Pope as "father of kings", "governor of the world" and "Vicar of Christ".

The gold cross on a monde (globe) surmounting the tiara symbolises the sovereignty of Jesus.

Since the 20th century the majority reside in the southern hemisphere due to secularisation of Europe, and increased persecution in the Middle East.

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