Born on 23 September 1934 in Rodica in the former Yugoslavia. His family were refugees in Austria in 1945 and then went to Argentina in 1948. He studied for the priesthood with the Lazarist fathers in Buenos Aires and took perpetual vows in 1957. He also studied at the Pontifical Gregorian Univeristy in Rome and the Institut Catholique in Paris.
He was ordained to the priesthood on 29 June 1960 in Paris. His superiors then asked him to return to Yugoslavia in 1965 where he held various pastoral and teaching positions.
He was appointed to the Secretariat for Non-Believers in 1981 and became its undersecretary in 1982. When Pope John Paul II joined the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Council for Non-Believers, he appointed Fr Rodé as the secretary of the new Pontifical Council for Culture.
He was appointed
Archbishop of Ljubljana on 5 March 1997 and consecrated in his Cathedral on 6 April 1997.
Pope John Paul II called him back to Rome in 2004, naming him Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life on 11 February 2004.
He was created Cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI on 24 March 2006.