Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela, Archbishop emeritus of Madrid (Spain), was born on 20 August 1936 in Villalba, diocese of Mondoñedo-Ferrol, Spain. From 1946 to 1954 he studied at the seminary of Mondoñedo-Ferrol, and from 1954 to 1958 he studied theology at the Pontifical University of Salamanca.
He was ordained a priest on 28 March 1959 in the ‘Catedral Vieja’ of Salamanca. From 1959 to 1964, he studied law and theology at the University of Munich and earned a doctorate, with a dissertation on Church-State relations in 16th Century Spain.
He was professor of fundamental theology and canon law at the seminary of Mondoñedo from 1964-1966; adjunct professor at the Institute of Canon Law at the University of Munich from 1966-1969; professor of public ecclesiastical law at the Pontifical University of Salamanca from 1969-1971; taught fundamental canon law in 1971 and served as vice-rector in 1972 of the same university. He was also an expert at the Pastoral Council of Galizia since its preparatory phase in 1974.
On 17 September 1976 he was appointed titular Bishop of Gergi and Auxiliary of Santiago de Compostela, and was ordained on 31 October 1976. During his years of study and scientific activities at the University of Munich he was involved in the parishes of san Raffaele and san Ansgar of the city; in Salamanca he was councillor of the Acción Católica Nacional de Propagandistas.
He has published many books and numerous scientific works in Spanish and in foreign reviews specialized in the theological foundation of canon law and problems with the Church-State relations. He is member of the International Association of Canon Law and the Association of Spanish Canonists. He was a relator during the Spanish Week of Canon Law and at International Congresses on the same subject.
Took part in the Ecumenical Group of Canonists of Heidelberg and of the Inter-confessional Christian Committee of Madrid.
He was President of the Junta de Asesores Jurídicos within the Spanish Episcopal Conference; from 1981-1989 he was a member of the Bishops’ Commission of Teaching and of Catechesis. From 1984, he was member of the Permanent Commission of the Spanish Episcopal Conference. He was President of the Spanish Episcopal Conference from March 1999 to March 2005, and from March 2008 to March 2014.
He was named Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela on 9 May 1984 and hosted the Fourth World Youth Day in August 1989.
In 1990, he was elected President of the Bishops’ Commission for Seminaries and Universities; member of the Synod of Bishops held in October 1993 on the formation of priests; participated at the Symposium of European Bishops from 1985 to 1989; member of the Executive Committee of the CEE, 1993.
He was named Archbishop of Madrid on 28 July 1994.
On 19 September 1996, the Holy Father nominated him ‘Magnum Cancellarium’ of the Theology Faculty of San Dámaso.
Author of numerous publications and has written various pastoral letters; has held conferences in Spain and abroad on the theology of law, fundamental questions of canon law, Church-State relations; participated in Congresses and Symposiums.
Nominated General Relator by Pope John Paul II for the Second Special Assembly for Europe of the Synod of Bishops (1-23 October 1999).
He was a Member of the Council of Cardinals for the Study of Organizational and Economic Affairs of the Holy See.
Archbishop emeritus of Madrid, 28 August 2014.
He participated in the conclave of April 2005, which elected Pope Benedict XVI and in the conclave of March 2013, which elected Pope Francis.
Created and proclaimed Cardinal by St. John Paul II in the Consistory of 21 February 1998, of the Title of S. Lorenzo in Damaso (St. Laurence in Damaso).