An open letter to Bishop Kevin Farrell, newly appointed as head of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life
Dear Bishop Farrell:
Congratulations on your appointment as the head of the newly established department for the Laity, Family and Life. We are pleased to see the implementation of this office so soon after the publication of the post-synodal apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia.
Admittedly, at first some of us were disappointed that a lay person, a family man or woman, was not assigned to head the department for the laity, family and life. However, as we learn more about you, it appears that, if a bishop must be placed in this role, that you an excellent choice. We are most gratified to know that you share Pope Francis pastoral vision for the church and have long pushed for a greater involvement of the laity in the life of the church. In setting out a description of the role of this new department, the Vatican reports that the dicastery will “have responsibility for lay associations and movements in the church.” With this understanding, we urge you to seriously consider the following:
- In filling your 35-member staff, set as a goal that the majority of staff members will be made up of qualified `lay Catholics from various parts of the world who share Pope Francis’s vision for the pastoral care of the Church.
- Staff members will have – not only an advisory role but – an influential and deliberative voice in the proceedings of this department.
- When the vision of your department aligns with lay-led initiatives, that you offer your full support and willingness to collaborate with such movements.
By way of background, in 1968 South American bishops held a conference in Medellin Columbia where the principles of the Second Vatican Council were emphasized. Now 50 years later in 2018, a group of lay-led Catholics calling themselves Council 50 are calling for a People’s Synod to be held in Brazil to carry on the work still left undone by the Vatican Council. It is their intention that, prior to this time, a number of local dialogue meetings will produce statements or votes that will be placed on the agenda. Catholic Church Reform Int’l is currently encouraging these small local gatherings in communities in various cities around the world: http://www.catholicchurchreform.org/216/index.php/get-involved/regional-gatherings. As part of the new role of your dicastery, we urge you to support and promote such lay-led events as this one being proposed in Brazil and others like it in other parts of the world.
We offer our prayers and willingness to work with you to help bring about a meaningful department that is created for the laity as well as led by the laity to help strengthen the impact of the Church on the pastoral care of the Faithful and of the family.
Sincerely in Christ,
on behalf of the Strategy team for Catholic Church Reform Int’l