Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, President emeritus of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”, was born on 5 September 1934 in Kirchhundem, Paderborn, Germany. He was ordained a priest on 21 December 1961 and holds a doctorate in theology.
In 1972 he was appointed Secretary of the Pastoral Commission of the German Episcopal Conference and thus took part in the 1972-75 Diocesan Synod.
On 27 October 1975, Paul VI appointed him titular Bishop of Naissus and Auxiliary of Paderborn. He was ordained a bishop on 1 February 1976.
John Paul II named him Vice-President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity in 1980, and later made him responsible for the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Office and the Neo-Catechumenical Way, a post he held until December 1995.
Involvement with the San Lorenzo International Youth Centre which opened on 13 March 1983 led him to plan a World Youth Meeting. It was held on Palm Sunday 1984, which thus marked the beginning of the World Youth Days.
On 2 December 1995 he became Archbishop and appointed President of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”.
President emeritus of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”, 7 October 2010.
He participated in the conclave of March 2013, which elected Pope Francis.
Created and proclaimed Cardinal by Benedict XVI in the consistory of 24 November 2007, of the Deaconry of San Lorenzo in Piscibus (St. Lawrence in Piscibus).