Vatican names head of new mega-department on laity, family and life issues

Bishop Kevin Farrell will lead the Vatican’s newly created mega-department on the family, laity, and life issues. The new office is part of Francis’ attempt to reform the Roman Curia, meaning the government of the Catholic Church.

Born in Ireland in 1947, Farrell has served as bishop of Dallas since 2007.

Starting Sept. 1, he’ll become the Prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life.

Farrell’s older brother, Bishop Brian Farrell, currently serves as Secretary of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

As a fun fact, the younger brother, created a bishop a year before his elder, has been quoted saying there’s “still some of that sibling rivalry” between the two.

The statutes for the office now headed by Farrell were announced last June, and the office comes from the merger of two current Vatican departments: the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Pontifical Council for the Family.

The Pontifical Academy for Life will also be connected to this new department.

The decision to put these three together has garnered the new office the label of “mega-dicastery.”

The Vatican statement announcing Farrell’s new position gave no indication as to where Polish Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, currently head of the Council for the Laity, will go to next.

Italian Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, until now head of the Council for the Family, was appointed new president of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington and a close Francis adviser, released a statement on Wednesday describing the appointment as “welcome news” given Farrell’s “demonstrated pastoral skills and his recognized administrative abilities.”

Farrell and Wuerl worked together in DC in 2006-2007, where the new Vatican official served as an auxiliary bishop before being transferred to Dallas.



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