Cardinal Cordes was born in Kirchhundern, Germany, in 1934 and ordained a priest in 1961. After studying medicine, philosophy, and theology in Munster, Paderborn, and Lyon, he was awarded a doctorate in 1971 under the direction of Karl Cardinal Lehmann. He worked for the Secretariat of the German Bishops’ Conference, and in 1975 he was named Auxiliary Bishop of Paderborn by Pope Paul VI. In 1980, Pope John Paul II called him to Rome as Vice President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. Appointed President of the Pontifi cal council “Cor Unum” in 1995, he was elevated to the College of Cardinals by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007.

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