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Indonesian university honors Vatican official for interfaith dialogue

Cardinal Miguel Guixot is hailed for his efforts in signing the Human Fraternity document in Abu Dhabi in 2019
Cardinal Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot (right), Apostolic Nuncio to Indonesia Archbishop Piero Pioppo (left), and Divine Word Father Markus Solo Kewuta (middle) are seen during a press conference at the Vatican Embassy in Jakarta on Feb. 11

Cardinal Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot (right), Apostolic Nuncio to Indonesia Archbishop Piero Pioppo (left), and Divine Word Father Markus Solo Kewuta (middle) are seen during a press conference at the Vatican Embassy in Jakarta on Feb. 11. (Photo: Katharina R. Lestari/UCA News)

Published: February 13, 2023 11:31 AM GMT
Updated: February 13, 2023 12:08 PM GMT

A state-run Islamic university in Indonesia conferred an honorary degree to a top Vatican official for his contributions to the promotion of interfaith dialogue in the world.

Cardinal Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, president of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue (previously the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue) received Honoris Causa Doctorate from the Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University based in Yogyakarta province on Feb. 13.  

Cardinal Guixot, 70, is a Spaniard and a member of the Combonian Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus (MCCJ).

Among the dignitaries who attended the ceremony were Apostolic Nuncio to Indonesia Archbishop Piero Pioppo and Divine Word Father Markus Solo Kewuta, director of Asia-Pacific desk of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue, Yahya Cholil Staquf, head of Nahdlatul Ulama, and Sudibyo Markus, former chairman of Muhammadiyah.

Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah are two leading Islamic organizations in Muslim-majority Indonesia.

“I am deeply grateful for your appreciation of the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together motivating you to hold this meaningful event. Today’s historic event is about contribution to the promotion and the strengthening of human fraternity in order to build a peaceful world and a common coexistence,” Cardinal Ayuso Guixot said during the event.

He acknowledged that it was a privilege for him to witness the signing of the document by Pope Francis and Ahmed el-Tayyeb, the grand imam of Al-Azhar, in Abu Dhabi in 2019.

“We can say without any rhetoric that the signing of the document was a milestone on the path to the interreligious dialogue. A milestone is a point along the way, neither the beginning nor the end. So this means that we have to work together through various ways to promote fraternity and to live in concrete ways in our daily life,” he said. 

The document seeks to promote a “culture of mutual respect” between Christians and Muslims and was signed on Feb. 4, 2019, by the two global religious leaders during the pope’s visit to the United Arab Emirates.

The Islamic university’s rector Phil Al Makin said the honorary degree was an appreciation of the role of Cardinal Ayuso Guixot in promoting interreligious dialogue as he served in Egypt and Sudan for several years and visited several Muslim-dominant countries in the Middle East region.

“His role in the signing of the Abu Dhabi Declaration … is significant. The signing of the declaration means that the Vatican, under the leadership of Pope Francis, has actively promoted tolerance and harmony among religious believers,” he said.

Father Kewuta, an Indonesian himself, called the honorary degree the highest recognition of the Catholic Church from Indonesia. 

“It ensures us that what we have done so far is truly right and is resonated among other religious believers, particularly Muslims. In the context of Indonesia, it paves the way to more collaborations in the future in promoting peace based on human fraternity,” he said.

Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Pioppo said the honorary degree was given to Cardinal Ayuso Guixot based on Pope Francis’ suggestion as the cardinal "is a scholar and a very deep person who is thinking deeply of interreligious dialogue and who also spends his life as a missionary.”

"In many ambiances, he shared that he is happy to be a Catholic and happy to be in dialogue with everyone,” he said.

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