With a Moto Proprio, Pope Francis announced on Wednesday the establishment of a Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life. The Prefect of the new Dicastery will be the Irish-born Bishop Kevin Joseph Farrell, currently serving as Bishop of Dallas.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Dicastery?
By the word "dicasteries" are understood the Secretariat of State, Congregations, Tribunals, Councils and Offices, namely the Apostolic Camera, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, and the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See. (Pastor Bonus, Art. 2)
Why was this dicastery created?
The Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life is competent in matters that pertain to the Apostolic See regarding the promotion of life, the apostolate of the lay faithful, the pastoral care of the family and its mission according to God’s plan and for the safeguard and support of human life. (Statutes of the new Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, Art. 1)
When Pope Francis addressed the participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Laity in June, he stated, “The new Dicastery will have as its ‘rudder’, in order to continue its navigation, on the one hand Christifideles Laici [The Lay Members of Christ's Faithful People] and on the other Evangelii Gaudium and Amoris Laetitia, whose privileged fields of work will be the family and the defense of life.”
What makes the creation of this dicastery unique?
This is the first organization created in response to the Holy Father’s efforts to reform the Roman Curia. The dicastery will replace the existing Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Pontifical Council for the Family, as well as the Pontifical Academy for Life.
What will Bishop Farrell be doing for the dicastery?
Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Kevin Farrell as the prefect of the new congregation. In Art. 2 of the Statutes, it states that the dicastery shall be presided over by a Prefect, who in turn is assisted by a Secretary, who may be a layperson, as well as by three lay Undersecretaries. It is to be staffed by an appropriate number of officials, clerics and lay people, chosen, in so far as possible, from different regions of the world, according to the Norms of the Roman Curia currently in force. (Statutes, Art. 1) The prefect or president acts as moderator of the dicastery, directs it and acts in its name. (PB Art. 5)
With this appointment as prefect to the new dicastery, Bishop Kevin Farrell becomes the highest ranking American in the Vatican Curia.
From the Vatican
- Pope Francis sets up new Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life - Vatican Radio
- Dicastery for the laity, family and life, established "ad experimentum"
- Statutes of the new Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life
- To participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Laity (17 June 2016)
- Pope’s choice for new Vatican post boosts moderates, Americans - Crux (John L. Allen, Jr.)
- A Dicastery for the laity – America magazine
- Pope establishes new dicastery for laity, family, life – Catholic News Service
- Pope approves new Vatican department for the Laity, Family, and Life – Catholic News Agency
- New Vatican department for laity and family to open in September – Catholic Herald
Papal documents relating to the dicastery
- 'Motu Proprio' for the establishment of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life
- Christifideles Laici (The Lay Members of Christ's Faithful People, Pope St. John Paul II)
- Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel)
- Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love)
- The Final Report of the Synod of Bishops to the Holy Father, Pope Francis (24 October 2015)
- Pastor Bonus (Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia, Pope St. John Paul II)