Born (1953) at Santa Maria da Feira (Portugal), he was ordained priest for the Diocese of Porto (1977).
He obtained his doctoral degree in Church History at the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1986 and was professor at the Instituto de Ciencias Humanas e Teológicas, Porto and in the Theology Faculty at the Università Cattolica Portoghese (1987-2010) taking up positions as its Vice-Rector (2000-2004) and director of the School of Arts (2008-2011).
He was spiritual director of the Major Seminary of Porto (1981-1993) and Secretary of the Episcopal Commission for the Clergy, Seminaries and Vocations (1988-1992).
As Secretary General he organised the symposia: “Fathers for this time” (Padres para este tempo) (1993) and The Father’s Way of Life (O estilo de vida do padre) (1996). He was Episcopal Delegate for the Permanent Diaconate.
He was parish priest of Senhora da Conceição, Porto (1994 - 2000) and president of the Assembly of Parish Priests of the city (1997-1999). He was then named canon of the Cathedral of Porto in 1996.
He was president of the Centro de Estudos de História Religiosa (1992-2001), directed the Dicionário e História religiosa de Portugal, in 7 volumes, and was president of the scientific commission for the critical edition of the documentation on Fatima (1998-2008).
He was vice-president of the Friends of the Museu Nacional de Soares dos Reis (1991-93) and then president (1994-96). He was co-director of the journal Museu (1993-1996).
He also directed other academic journals: Humanística e Teologia (1987-2000); Lusitania Sacra (1992-2000) and began several book series: Biblioteca Humanística e Teológica, 14 volumes; História Religiosa: Fontes e subsídios (1995-) and Estudos de História Religiosa (1998-); Mundo, Evangelho Igreja (1999-), already in its eleventh volume; the poetry series "Fogo das figuras", in six volumes with the Foundation Manuel Leão.
He was general commissar for different art exhibitions: Larga fama portucalense do culto antoniano, Porto (1996); Vigor da Imaculada: visões de arte e piedade (1998) and the greatest ever Portuguese exhibition: Cristo fonte de esperança, commemorating the Great Jubilee of 2000; O Mártir: corpo ferido na árvore (2005), in honour of Saint Sebastian.
Member of the Academia Portuguesa da História (1998-). President of the Spes Foundation (2007-).
He was nominated auxiliary bishop of Lisbon and ordained 2 April 2005. He was secretary of the Portuguese Episcopal Conference (2005 - 2008), president of the Episcopal Commission for Pastoral Social (2008-2011) and member of the Episcopal Commission for Culture, Cultural Goods and Social Communications (2005-2011). On 11 November 2011 he was nominated Delegate of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
He is a Member of the Academia Nacional das Belas artes, Lisbon (2013) and was National Coordinator for the Vatican for the “European Heritage Days” (15-10-2013).
In December 2022 he was nominated delegate of the Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences.