He was a missionary in Egypt and Sudan for 20 years. And it was there that he discovered the importance of dialogue as a “tool for settling conflicts and at the same time for drawing from the wellsprings of peace”. Strong in this knowledge and in the experience that he developed as head of the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies (PISAI) — of which he has been President sine 2006 — the Spanish Comboni Father Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot is preparing for his new task as Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, an office that Benedict XVI entrusted to him last 30 June.
The theme of dialogue continues to be particularly relevant today, precisely in Egypt and in Sudan.
I would say so, given the situation in these two countries. Although interreligious dialogue is not concerned with political issues, it can make a specific contribution to the recognition of the values that are at the root of justice and peace, both within the country and in relations with other States.
What was your reaction to the news of Benedict XVI’s decision?
The Pope has honoured me with this appointment which was absolutely unexpected. I am infinitely grateful to him for having thought of a common missionary for this office. However, I am aware that it is a sensitive role.
How important will your experience with Islam be in your future activity?
I have to say that through study and experience I am quite well acquainted with Muslims, with whom the Catholic Church wish to have a dialogue, in many ways and in many places. Islam is a situation to which we must pay special attention, without neglecting other believers. And all this confirms the importance that Benedict XVI attributes to Islamic-Christian relations.