Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals, Secretary of State emeritus, was born on November 23, 1927 in Isola d’Asti, Italy. He is the second out of 6 children. Having studied philosophy and theology at the seminary of Asti, he then obtained a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University and in canon law from the Pontifical Lateran University.
He was ordained a priest on September 23, 1950 and dedicated his first years to teaching dogmatic theology at the diocesan seminary and to the youth apostolate.
In 1959, he joined the Holy See’s Diplomatic Corps and after having attended the Pontifical Ecclesiatical Academy, he served in Ecuador, Uruguay and Chile, as Secretary of the Nunciature. In 1968 he was called to Rome to serve in the then Council for Public Affairs of the Church. During this period, as a member of the Holy See’s missions, he visited Romania, Hungary and East Germany.
On November 30, 1977 he was named titular Archbishop of Nova di Cesare and Apostolic Nuncio in Chile. He was ordained on January 15, 1978.
In Chile, he worked for 10 years visiting nearly every diocese and cooperating also in the happy conclusion of the pontifical mediation between Chile and Argentina, for the peaceful solution to the controversy over the sovereignty of the 2 States in some zones of the austral territory.
On May 28, 1988 John Paul II called him to serve as Secretary of the then Council for Public Affairs of the Church. On March 1, 1989, with the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus becoming effective, he then assumed the title of Secretary for the Relationship with States.
He has even dedicated particular attention to the Pontifical Commission for Russia, of which he was President.
He has represented the Holy See in various international reunions, especially at the meetings of Foreign Ministers of the Conference of Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) held in Vienna, Copenhagen, New York and Paris.
On December 1, 1990, he was called to serve as Pro-Secretary of State.
On June 29, 1991, he was named Secretary of State.
Elected Vice Dean of the College of Cardinals on November 30, 2002.
On April 30, 2005, the Holy Father Benedict XVI - shortly after being elected Pope - reconfirmed Cardinal Sodano as Secretary of State and approved the election by Cardinals of the Order of Bishops of Cardinal Sodano as Dean of the College of Cardinals.
On September 15, 2006, the Pope Benedict XVI accepted his resignation as Secretary of State, according to canon 354 of the Code of Canon Law.
Created and proclaimed Cardinal by John Paul II in the Consistory of June 28, 1991, of the Titles of the Suburbicarian Church of Albano, retaining in commendam Title of Santa Maria Nova (January 10, 1994), and of the Suburbicarian Church of Ostia (April 30, 2005).
- Congregations: for the Doctrine of the Faith; for Bishops; for the Oriental Churches;
- Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State;
- Cardinal Commission for the Supervision of the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR).