Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, M.C.C.J., President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, was born on 17 June 1952 in Seville, Spain, in a large and profoundly Catholic family.
The fifth of the nine children of Juan de Dios Ayuso Rubio and Natividad Guixot Visconti, he initially attended the San Antonio Maria Claret College, and subsequently enrolled at the Faculty of Law of the city university, while continuing to attend Church and spiritual retreats for young people. It was here that he came into contact with the journal and publications of the Combonian Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus, deciding in September 1973 to enter into the Congregation in which he gave his perpetual vows on 2 May 1980. He was ordained a priest on 20 September of the same year, in the Corpus Christi parish of Seville, by the metropolitan archbishop, Cardinal José María Bueno y Monreal (1904-1987). He continued his ecclesiastical formation in Rome, at the Pontifical Urban University and the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies (PISAI), where he was awarded a licentiate in 1982. He left in October of the same year for Egypt, and served as a parish priest in Cairo, in the Latin community of the Sacred Heart of Abbasiyya, near the Coptic-Orthodox Cathedral and not far from the University of Al-Azhar, dedicating himself to the reception and assistance of young Sudanese Catholics present in the Egyptian capital as students, migrants or political refugees. This experience, following in the footsteps of Saint Daniele Comboni, then lead him to Sudan during the time of civil war. He remained there until 2002, directing the catechetical centre of the diocese of El-Obeid – which includes territories sadly known for poverty and conflict, such as Kordofan and Darfur – and from 1989, taught Islamology in Khartoum.
In 2000 he obtained a doctorate in dogmatic theology from the University of Granada, and carried out teaching activities also in Cairo and finally in Rome, where in 2006 he became the president of the PISAI, an institution established back in 1926, when the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) opened a house in Tunisia for priests and religious who were preparing to live in a Muslim environment. In 1964 this institute of excellence was transferred to Rome and welcomed favourably by Paul VI. Integrated into the academic community in 2002, before becoming president Fr. Ayuso Guixot served as director of studies.
Appointed as consultor of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue in 2007, the year in which Tauran was chosen as president, on 30 June 2012 he was called by Benedict XVI to succeed archbishop Pier Luigi Celata in the role of secretary of the dicastery. At the end of the same year, with the founding of the “King Abdullal Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue” (Kaiciid), based in Vienna, he was appointed as Holy See representative at the Council of the parties, also acting as Founding Observer.
As the health of the cardinal president deteriorated, at the beginning of 2016 Pope Francis elevated Ayuso Guixot to the titular episcopal see of Luperciana, conferring ordination three years ago, on 19 March, in the Vatican Basilica. Since then he has undertaken a succession of commitments, trips in every corner of the world to bear witness to Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Shinto and Confucian brothers and those of other traditional religious that it is through personal friendship that it is possible to establish dialogue.
Pope Francis has made interreligious dialogue a priority in his pontificate, as shown by the various visits to countries in which Catholics are a minority and in which Ayuso Guixot participated in the papal entourage: those of the United Arab Emirates and in Morocco in February and March 2019. In this respect, the Document on Human Fraternity for world peace and living together was signed jointly in Abu Dhabi by the Pontiff and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar (the most important Sunni academic institution). To reach the goals, a high Committee has recently been established in which Ayuso Guixot represents the Holy See along with Msgr. Yoannis Lahzi Gaid, personal secretary to Pope Francis. The other members include Egyptian and Emirati individuals engaged in dialogue, who on 11 September, on the occasion of the first meeting, chose the cardinal-elect Ayuso Guixot as president of the Committee. In the meantime, on 6 August the Pope had also appointed him as a member of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.
Created and proclaimed Cardinal by Pope Francis in the consistory of 5 October 2019, of the Deaconry of San Girolamo della Carità in Via Giulia.
Congregations for the Oriental Churches; for the Evangelization of Peoples.