Kevin Farrell

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His Eminence
Kevin Joseph Farrell
Cardinal, Prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life
Bishop Kevin J. Farrell - Official Photograph (Courtesy of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas).jpg
Church Roman Catholic
Appointed August 17, 2016
Predecessor None; position established
Other posts Cardinal-Deacon of San Giuliano Martire (2016-Present)
Ordination December 24, 1978
by Eduardo Francisco Pironio
Consecration February 11, 2002
by Theodore Edgar McCarrick
Created Cardinal November 19, 2016
by Pope Francis
Rank Cardinal-Deacon
Personal details
Birth name Kevin Joseph Farrell
Born (1947-09-02) September 2, 1947 (age 70)
Dublin, Ireland
Previous post
Motto State In Fide
("Stand in Faith")
Ordination history of
Kevin Farrell
Priestly ordination
Ordained by Eduardo Francisco Pironio
Date of ordination 24 December 1978
Place of ordination Rome, Italy
Episcopal consecration
Principal consecrator Theodore Edgar McCarrick
Co-consecrators James Aloysius Hickey
Leonard Olivier
Date of consecration 11 February 2002
Elevated by Pope Francis
Date of elevation 19 November 2016
Episcopal succession
Bishops consecrated by Kevin Farrell as principal consecrator
J. Douglas Deshotel 27 April 2010
Mark J. Seitz 27 April 2010
John Gregory Kelly 11 February 2016
Styles of
Kevin Joseph Farrell
Coat of arms of Kevin Joseph Farrell (Cardinal).svg
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal

Kevin Joseph Cardinal Farrell (born September 2, 1947) is an Irish-born American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. A former member of the Legion of Christ, he has been appointed the Prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, effective September 1, 2016. He had been the seventh Bishop of Dallas, as well as the chancellor of the University of Dallas.

Early life[edit]

Kevin Farrell was born in Dublin, Ireland, and grew up speaking Irish.[1] The second of four sons, he has an older brother, Brian, who currently serves as Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in the Roman Curia. Farrell studied under the Christian Brothers in Drimnagh, and entered the novitiate of the Legion of Christ in 1966. In 1967, he visited the United States while raising funds for the missions of Latin America through the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith.

He obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Salamanca in Spain, followed by studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, where he earned a Master's degree in Philosophy and licentiate in theology. Farrell also attended the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum), receiving a master's degree in dogmatic theology (1976) and Licentiate of Sacred Theology in pastoral theology (1977).[2] He also holds a Master's in business and administration from the University of Notre Dame.


Farrell was ordained to the priesthood in Rome on December 24, 1978. He then served as chaplain to the University of Monterrey in Mexico, where he also conducted seminars in bioethics and social ethics. He was also General Administrator of the Legion of Christ with responsibilities for seminaries and schools in Italy, Spain, and Ireland.

In 1984, Farrell was assigned to the United States and incardinated in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. He served as an associate pastor at St. Peter's Church in Olney, St. Bartholomew Church in Bethesda, and St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Washington. He succeeded Fr. Seán O'Malley, OFM Cap, as director of the Spanish Catholic Center in 1986.

Farrell became acting director of Catholic Charities in 1988, and was the Archdiocesan Secretary of Finance from 1989 to 2001. He was raised to the rank of Honorary Prelate of His Holiness in 1995. In 2001, he was named vicar general for the Archdiocese and pastor of Annunciation Church in Washington.


On December 28, 2001 Pope John Paul II appointed Farrell as an Auxiliary Bishop of the Washington Archdiocese with the titular see of Rusuccuru. He was consecrated on February 11, 2002, by Theodore Edgar Cardinal McCarrick, and served until 2007 as Washington's moderator of the curia and chief vicar-general.[3]

He was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI on March 6, 2007 to replace the retiring Bishop of Dallas, Texas, Charles Victor Grahmann. He was installed on May 1, 2007.[4]

Within the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Farrell was a consultant to the Committee on Migration, which oversaw the Migration and Refugee Services department. This department serves and advocates for refugees, asylees, other forced migrants, immigrants and people on the move.[5] Farrell was also the 2009 chair of the USCCB Committee on National Collections, which supports stewardship and coordinates the collections for social justice, evangelization, education and institutional development.

Bishop Farrell's brother, Bishop Brian Farrell, is the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Kevin Farrell commented: "I'm younger, but I became bishop first, 12 months earlier. And we still have a little sibling rivalry."[6]

On August 17, 2016, Pope Francis appointed Bishop Kevin Farrell prefect of the newly established Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life.[7] On October 9, 2016, Pope Francis announced he would raise Farrell to the rank of cardinal in a consistory on November 19, 2016.[8] He was created a Cardinal-Deacon on that day and assigned to the church of San Giuliano Martire.[9] He became the highest ranking American clergyman serving in the Vatican after William Cardinal Levada.

In November 2016 Farrell said that he believes the US bishops as a whole should have discussed pastoral guidelines for implementing Pope Francis’s exhortation on the family before individual bishops began issuing guidelines for their own dioceses. Implementing the Pope’s post synodal apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, he said, “has to be done in communion with our bishops. I think that it would have been wiser to wait for the gathering of the conference of bishops where all the bishops of the United States or all the bishops of a country would sit down and discuss these things.” The cardinal-designate was asked specifically about pastoral guidelines issued for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia by Archbishop Charles Chaput, who also is head of a US bishops’ ad hoc committee for implementing Amoris Laetitia. Among other things, the Philadelphia guidelines state that while divorced and civilly remarried couples should be welcome in parishes and accompanied by priests, they may not receive Communion unless they live as brother and sister.[10]

On 10 June 2017, Pope Francis named him a member of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See.[11]


Farrell is a supporter of gun control initiatives and opposes congressional deference to the “gun lobby”.[12]


  1. ^ Hodges, Sam (May 18, 2008). "Bishop Kevin Farrell has whirlwind first year as Dallas' Catholic Diocese leader". The Dallas Morning News. Archived from the original on June 29, 2010. Retrieved January 26, 2015. 
  2. ^ Accessed November 2, 2016
  3. ^ "Bishop Kevin Joseph Farrell". Diocese of Dallas. Retrieved October 18, 2008. [dead link]
  4. ^ "Diocese of Dallas, United States". Retrieved October 18, 2008. 
  5. ^ "Committee Membership". United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Retrieved November 18, 2008. 
  6. ^ Gaetan, Victor (26 March 2015). "The Bishops Farrell: An Answer to an Irish Mother’s Prayers". National Catholic Register. Retrieved 10 June 2017. 
  7. ^ "Rinunce e nomine —Nomina del Prefetto del nuovo Dicastero per i Laici, la Famiglia e la Vita" (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. August 17, 2016. Retrieved August 17, 2016. 
  8. ^ "Annuncio di Concistoro per la creazione di nuovi Cardinali" (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. October 9, 2016. Retrieved October 9, 2016. 
  9. ^ "Titular churches and diaconates of the new cardinals, 19.11.2016" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. November 19, 2016. Retrieved November 19, 2016. 
  10. ^ "Bishops need shared approach to Amoris Laetitia, new cardinal says". Catholic Herald. 16 November 2016. Retrieved 10 June 2017. 
  11. ^ "Resignations and Appointments, 10.06.2017" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. 10 June 2017. Retrieved 10 June 2017. 
  12. ^ "Horror in Las Vegas polarises the world of religion". The Economist. 3 October 2017. 

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Charles Victor Grahmann
Bishop of Dallas
Succeeded by
Edward J. Burns
New title Prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life