Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro, Major Penitentiary emeritus, was born on 29 March 1938 in Santa Eufémia de Prazins, Portugal.
He was ordained a priest on 9 July 1961 and exercised his priestly ministry in the Archdiocese of Braga. In 1964 he was sent to Rome and in 1967 he earned a doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University and a diploma from the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy. In the same year, he entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See and served in Panama, Guatemala, Vietnam, Cambodia, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Mexico and Belgium.
On 16 February 1985 he was appointed titular Archbishop of Benevento and was consecrated on the following 23rd March. Subsequently, he served as nuncio in Trinidad and Tobago, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Jamaica and Saint Lucia.
On 21 August 1990 he was appointed nuncio in El Salvador and Honduras.
In 1998 until 2000 he was nuncio in South Africa, Namibia, Swaziland and Lesotho, and apostolic delegate in Botswana.
On 1 March 2000, he was appointed nuncio in Spain and Andorra. On 7 December 2007 he was also nominated Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the World Tourism Organization.
On 3 July 2009 he appointed secretary of the Congregation for Bishops and on 21 October of the same year, secretary of the College of Cardinals.
The Pope appointed him Major Penitentiary on 5 January 2012.
Major Penitentiary emeritus, 21 September 2013.
He participated in the conclave of March 2013, which elected Pope Francis.
Created and proclaimed Cardinal by Benedict XVI in the consistory of 18 February 2012, of the Deaconry of San Domenico di Guzman (St. Dominic de Guzman).