Cardinal Pham Minh Man was born in 1934 in Ca Mau (Vietnam). He studied in Can Tho and Ho Chi Minh City (then Saigon), and was ordained on 25 May 1965 for the diocese of Can Tho.
He later undertook further studies in the United States before returning to Vietnam to teach.
He was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of My Tho on 22 March 1993 and consecrated in Can Tho on 11 August 1993 by Bishop Le Phon Thuan of Can Tho.
He was promoted to Archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City on 1 March 1998.
Pope John Paul II elevated him to the College of Cardinals on 21 October 2003. The Communist Government in Vietnam originally expressed displeasure that the Pope had not first sought its permission, but soon reversed its position.