On Wednesday morning, August 17, Pope Francis established a new Pontifical Council on the Laity, the Family and Life, and appointed Dallas’ Bishop Kevin Joseph Farrell as its head.

Effective September 1, the new Vatican Dicastery will assume all the responsibilities and functions of two current Vatican offices:  the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and the Pontifical Council for the Family. The two Pontifical Councils will cease to exist.

Vatican Radio reported on the Motu Proprio, the Apostolic Letter by which Pope Francis made the appointment:

As a loving Mother, the Pope wrote, the Church has always throughout the centuries shown her concern for the laity, the family and life, by witnessing our Lord’s merciful love for humanity and we want to ensure that “the riches of Jesus Christ are poured out appropriately and with profusion among the faithful.”

For this reason, we are taking prompt moves so that that “the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia can respond to the situation of our times and adapt to the needs of the universal Church. In particular, our thoughts are turned towards the laity, the family and life to whom we wish to offer our support and help so that they are active witnesses of the Gospel in our times and as a sign of the goodness of the Lord.”

Bishop Farrell, who also serves as chancellor of the University of Dallas and treasurer of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in statement on the Diocese of Dallas website,

“I am extremely humbled that our Holy Father Pope Francis has selected me to lead this newly formed dicastery.  I look forward to being part of the important work of the universal Church in the promotion of the laity and the apostolate of the laity and for the pastoral care of the family in accordance with the Pope’s recent apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, the Joy of Love, and the support of human life.

…I know our Holy Father is working, as we speak, to find the right man to serve as the new chief shepherd.  I am confident that, upon my departure, Bishop Greg Kelly will handle the needs of the diocese in the interim.  Please pray for him.  I also ask that you please pray for me as I begin this next unexpected chapter of my priesthood.  May God continue to bless the Diocese of Dallas.”

Bishop Farrell has been chief shepherd of the Diocese of Dallas since 2007. Before that, he was an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Washington.

He is the younger brother of Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. The appointment of Bishop Kevin Farrell to this new post marks the first time that two brothers have served simultaneously in top Vatican offices.

Congratulations, Bishop Farrell, as you undertake this new responsibility in Christ’s service. Ad multos annos.


Image:  Diocese of Dallas website