Michael Louis Fitzgerald (17 August 1937) is a Roman Catholic archbishop. He is the papal nuncio to Egypt and delegate to the Arab League. He was previously the head of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
Michael L. Fitzgerald was born in Walsall, United Kingdom, on 17 August 1937, into a Catholic family of Irish descent. Desiring from an early age to become a priest and a missionary, he joined the junior seminary of the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) at the age of twelve, first in Scotland, then in the south of England. He studied philosophy for two years, the first in England and the second in Ireland. He made his novitiate in the Netherlands from 1956 to 1957 and pursued his theological studies from 1957 to 1961 in Tunisia, where he began learning Arabic and acquiring some knowledge of Islam. Cardinal William Godfrey, Archbishop of Westminster, ordained him priest in London on 3 February 1961 as a member of the Society of Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers).
Upon ordination in 1961 he was sent to Rome to study Dogmatic Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University. Among his teachers was Jesuit theologian Bernard Lonergan. This was the time of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) which provided the opportunity of attending lectures by theologians such as Karl Rahner and Yves Congar. He completed his doctorate in Theology in 1965. In 1965 he started a B. A. in Arabic at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, graduating in 1968, whereupon he became a lecturer at the IPEA (Institut Pontifical d'Études Arabes), later renamed Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies (PISAI).
After one year lecturing at the PISAI, he was appointed lecturer in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Makerere, Kampala, Uganda, where he taught Islam to Muslim as well as to Christian students. In 1971 he returned to Rome to pursue his teaching and scholarly interests at the PISAI. From 1972 to 1978 he was Director of the PISAI. During this period Fitzgerald was involved in the creation of Encounter, Documents for Christian-Muslim Understanding, a periodical publication on Islam, and supervised the launch of Islamochristiana, a scholarly journal specialised in Muslim-Christian relations and interreligious dialogue. In 1972 he became consultor of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, then known as Secretariat for Non-Christians.
In 1978 he returned to Africa to carry out parish work in the Sudan, in the town of New Halfa (Archdiocese of Khartoum). His duties included ministering to the Christian population while also cooperating with the Muslim community. In 1980 he was elected to the General Council of the Missionaries of Africa in Rome, where he spent six years in administration and animation.
In 1987 he was appointed Secretary of the Secretariat for Non-Christians (renamed in 1988 Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue), an office then led by Cardinal Francis Arinze and at the direct service of Pope John Paul II. In that capacity Fitzgerald was involved in drafting Dialogue and Proclamation, one of the Catholic Church's documents concerning the relationship between dialogue and evangelisation.
On 16 December 1991 Michael L. Fitzgerald was appointed titular bishop of Nepte (Nafta, Tunisia) and was ordained bishop by Pope John Paul II on 6 January 1991, the Feast of the Epiphany.
He was appointed President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and raised to the dignity of Archbishop on 1 October 2002.
On 15 February 2006 he was appointed Apostolic Nuncio in Egypt and Delegate to the League of Arab States, his first diplomatic post.
Archbishop Michael L. Fitzgerald is a leading expert on Islam, Muslim-Christian relations and Interreligious dialogue in the Catholic Church. His publications include Dieu rêve d'unité. Les catholiques et les religions: les leçons du dialogue. Entretiens avec Annie Laurent (Paris, Bayard Presse, 2005) and (with John Borelli) Interfaith Dialogue. A Catholic View, (SPCK, London & Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY, 2006), both translated into Italian.
Books by Michael L. Fitzgerald
- (with R. Dionne) Catalysts, The White Fathers of Africa, Dublin, 1980, revised edition 1998.
- (with R. Caspar) Signs of Dialogue. Christian Encounters with Muslims, Silsilah Publications, Zamboanga City, 1992.
- Dieu rêve d'unité. Les catholiques et les religions: les leçons du dialogue. Entretiens avec Annie Laurent, Paris, Bayard Presse, 2005.
- (with John Borelli) Interfaith Dialogue. A Catholic View, SPCK, London & Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY, 2006.
^ Fitzgerald, Michael, and Borelli, John, Interfaith Dialogue. A Catholic View, SPCK, London & Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY, 2006, pp. 1-2.
^ Fitzgerald, Michael, and Borelli, John, Interfaith Dialogue. A Catholic View, SPCK, London & Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY, 2006, pp. 3-4.
^ Fitzgerald, Michael, and Borelli, John, Interfaith Dialogue. A Catholic View, SPCK, London & Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY, 2006, pp. 4-8.
^ Fitzgerald, Michael, and Borelli, John, Interfaith Dialogue. A Catholic View, SPCK, London & Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY, 2006, pp. 8-10.
^ Fitzgerald, Michael, Dieu rêve d'unité. Les catholiques et les religions: les leçons du dialogue. Entretiens avec Annie Laurent, Paris, Bayard Presse, 2005. p. 17.
President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue
1 October 2002–15 February 2006
BBC news profile (April 2005)
BBC news article on his appointment to his current post (March 2006)
BBC news article (Sept 2006) mentioning him in connection with the Pope Benedict XVI Islam controversy
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