Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals, Secretary of State emeritus, was born on 23 November 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 23 September 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 30 November 1977 he was named titular Archbishop of Nova di Cesare and Apostolic Nuncio in Chile. He was ordained on 15 January 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 28 May 1988 John Paul II called him to serve as Secretary of the then Council for Public Affairs of the Church. On 1 March 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 1 December 1990, he was called to serve as Pro-Secretary of State.
On 29 June 1991, he was named Secretary of State.
Elected Vice Dean of the College of Cardinals on 30 November 2002.
On 30 April 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 15 September 2006, the Pope Benedict XVI accepted his resignation as Secretary of State, according to canon 354 of the Code of Canon Law.
Appointed by Pope Francis, he participated in the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (October 2014) on The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization and in the XIV Ordinary General Assembly on The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and Contemporary World (October 2015).
He participated in the conclave of April 2005, which elected Pope Benedict XVI.
Created and proclaimed Cardinal by St. John Paul II in the Consistory of 28 June 1991, of the Titles of the Suburbicarian Church of Albano (10 January 1994), and of the Suburbicarian Church of Ostia (30 April 2005), retaining in commendam Title of Santa Maria Nova.