Cardinal Deacon of San Lorenzo in Piscibus
Born on 5 September 1934, Cardinal Cordes abandoned studies in medicine to study for the priesthood. He studied in Lyons, Paderborn and then under the future Cardinal Lehmann at the University of Mainz.
He was ordained for the archdiocese of Paderborn by then Archbishop Lorenz Jaeger on 21 December 1961. He served in various academic roles before undertaking his doctoral studies. Then in 1972, he began serving in the secretariat of the German Bishops' Conference as relator for pastoral affairs.
He was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Paderborn by Pope Paul VI on 27 October 1975 and consecrated on 1 February 1976 by Cardinal Degenhardt.
Pope John Paul II then called him to Rome, appointing him Vice-President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity in 1980, in which role he served until he was made President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum on 2 December 1995.
He was raised to the dignity of Cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI on 24 November 2007.