I'd've said there's nothing much like a cardinal except a cardinal;
> the whole idea is so tied to the Papacy that there really isn't anything
> similar in Orthodoxy, is there?
My comparison was admittedly imprecise. I meant only ranks above otherwise undistinguished archbishops, but beneath patriarchs and popes. These are cardinals in the Western church, and metropolitans in (some of) the East.
You could say the patriarchs of Eastern Orthodoxy are a lot like cardinals, in that they comprise the collegial government of an undivided church. Their relationship to the ecumenical patriarch, who's first among equals, is of course different.
On the other hand, the patriarchs themselves might well say they're more akin to the pope of the Western church. After all, his office started out as one of theirs.
-- "Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað."