Kevin Farrell

Kevin Joseph Farrell (born September 2, 1947) is an Irish-American prelate and a cardinal of the Catholic Church. Born in Dublin, Ireland, he was a former member of the Legion of Christ, and served as the seventh Bishop of Dallas, as well as the chancellor of the University of Dallas. On September 1, 2016, he was appointed the prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life. He was created a cardinal on November 19, 2016, by Pope Francis.

Kevin Joseph Farrell
Prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life
Bishop Farrell in 2007.jpg
Farrell in 2007
ChurchRoman Catholic Church
AppointedAugust 15, 2016
Other posts
OrdinationDecember 24, 1978
by Eduardo Francisco Pironio
ConsecrationFebruary 11, 2002
by Theodore Edgar McCarrick
Created cardinalNovember 19, 2016
by Pope Francis
RankCardinal deacon
Personal details
Birth nameKevin Joseph Farrell
Born (1947-09-02) September 2, 1947 (age 73)
Dublin, Ireland
Previous post
MottoState in fide
('Stand firm in the faith')
Ordination history of
Kevin Farrell
Priestly ordination
Ordained byEduardo Francisco Pironio
DateDecember 24, 1978
PlaceRome, Italy
Episcopal consecration
Principal consecratorTheodore Edgar McCarrick
Co-consecratorsJames Aloysius Hickey
Leonard Olivier
DateFebruary 11, 2002
Elevated byPope Francis
DateNovember 19, 2016
Episcopal succession
Bishops consecrated by Kevin Farrell as principal consecrator
J. Douglas DeshotelApril 27, 2010
Mark J. SeitzApril 27, 2010
John Gregory KellyFebruary 11, 2016
Styles of
Kevin Joseph Farrell
Coat of arms of Kevin Joseph Farrell (Cardinal).svg
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal

In July 2018, revelations that Farrell's mentor and former archbishop of Washington, Theodore McCarrick, was guilty of abusing many young seminarians and priests over several decades brought calls in countless American publications for Farrell to clarify whether he knew of the allegations and did nothing. McCarrick consecrated Farrell to the episcopacy in 2001 and Farrell served as an auxiliary bishop under McCarrick in the Archdiocese of Washington through 2006 before being transferred to Dallas.[1] On February 14, 2019, Pope Francis named Farrell Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church. In June 2019, Farrell admitted to receiving $29,000 from disgraced Bishop Michael J. Bransfield to refurbish his Rome apartment.[2]

Early lifeEdit

Farrell was born in Dublin and grew up speaking Irish.[3]

Farrell is the second of four sons. In December 2002, his older brother, Brian, was appointed Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in the Roman Curia.[4] Kevin 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.[5]

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. He 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).[6] He also holds a Master's in business and administration from the University of Notre Dame.[7] Notre Dame also granted him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 2017.[8]


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. In the early 1980s, he left the Legion of Christ and was incardinated in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.. In 1984, Farrell was assigned as an associate pastor at St. Peter's Church, Olney, Maryland. He also served at St. Bartholomew Church, Bethesda, Maryland, and St. Thomas the Apostle Church, Washington, D.C. In 1985, he was appointed director of the archdiocesan Spanish Catholic Center.[5]

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.[5]

Episcopal careerEdit

On December 28, 2001, Pope John Paul II appointed Farrell as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington 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.[9]

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.[10]

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.[11]

Farrell was 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. His 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."[12]

Roman CuriaEdit

On August 17, 2016, Pope Francis appointed Farrell prefect of the newly established Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life.[13]

On October 9, 2016, Pope Francis announced he would raise Farrell to the rank of cardinal in a consistory on November 19, 2016.[14] He was created a Cardinal-Deacon on that day and assigned to the church of San Giuliano Martire.[15]

On June 10, 2017, Pope Francis named him a member of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See,[16] and on December 23, 2017, a member of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State.[17]

On February 14, 2019 Pope Francis named him Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church.[18][19]

On April 20, 2020, Farrell successfully persuaded Pope Francis to postpone both the 2021 World Meeting of Families and 2022 World Youth Day to June 2022 and August 2023 respectively due to the COVID-19 pandemic "and its consequences for the movement and gathering of young people and families."[20][21][22]

On September 29, 2020, Pope Francis appointed Farrell as president of the Commission for Confidential Matters, a new office in the Roman Curia.[23]


Association with Cardinal McCarrickEdit

In July 2018, after publicity over a 50-year-old accusation that former archbishop of Washington Theodore McCarrick had been accused of molesting a teenage boy, news came out that there were also many accusations and legal settlements in the three dioceses where McCarrick had served as ordinary that McCarrick had harassed and molested adult men in his seminary formation programs as well as young priests. Questions were presented in many news articles as to which of the bishops who served with McCarrick were aware and did nothing. Farrell is the highest ranking of these bishops, having been chosen in 2001 by McCarrick as an auxiliary bishop and then having served with McCarrick through the next six years in the leadership of the Archdiocese of Washington. In those years Farrell also served in the high ranking position of vicar general. Farrell's high regard for McCarrick is demonstrated by the fact that the central lion on his coat of arms was taken from the coat of arms of McCarrick. [24] He also shared a four bedroom apartment with McCarrick and two priest secretaries for 6 years in Washington DC.[25][26][1][27] Journalist Michael Sean Winters called McCarrick Farrell's "mentor in the episcopacy."[28]

The University of Dallas named the new administration building after Farrell, a former chancellor.[29][30] In the summer of 2018, after continued negative publicity regarding the relationship between Farrell and McCarrick, a website was formed arguing against honoring Farrell by the university and a petition was circulated through that website among students and alumni demanding that Farrell's name be removed from the new administration building.[31]

In September 2018, the Italian daily newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano claimed to have obtained a dossier on Cardinal Farrell, part of the 300-page report on financial corruption, homosexuality, and blackmail, centered around a gay mafia within the Vatican. Il Fatto Quotidiano asserted that the dossier was from the investigation conducted by Cardinals Julián Herranz, Salvatore De Giorgi, and Jozef Tomko in response to the 2012 Vatican leaks scandal. As of September 14, 2018, the newspaper has yet to release the dossier.[32]

World Meeting of Families 2018Edit

In September 2015, the Vatican announced that the World Meeting of Families would be held in Ireland in 2018.[33] In August 2016, Pope Francis announced Farrell would lead the new Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life and as a result took charge of WMOF. Following his appointment, Farrell said that the papal visit to Ireland will inspire us and turn around negativity towards the Church.[34]

Attendance Organisers claimed to have sold out tickets for the Papal Mass in Phoenix Park, Dublin where Pope John Paul II celebrated mass in 1979 in front of 1,250,000 people (33% of the population). Organisers said that 500,000 tickets had been sold for the mass in August 2018.[35] The Office of Public Works in Ireland confirmed that 152,000 people attended (3% of the population).[36]

Fundraising In 2018, the WMOF confirmed it was seeking to raise €20million through fundraising in Ireland. [37] In August 2018, businesswoman and entrepreneur Norah Casey said that Allianz Insurance was its headline sponsor. Allianz issued a statement clarifying that they were the general insurer. [38] Organisers raised €14 million.[39] The event incurred €4.4million in losses. [40]

Former Irish President Mary McAleese was a public critic of the World Meeting of Families. McAleese said she and her family were not welcome and she would not be attending any official WMOF event. Speaking on RTE's Marian Finucane Programme in August 2018, McAleese said of the World Meeting of Families: “It's always been essentially a right wing rally... and it was designed for that purpose, to rally people to get them motivated to fight against the tide of same sex marriage, rights for gays, abortion rights, contraceptive rights”.[41]

In August 2018, the Grand jury investigation of Catholic Church sexual abuse in Pennsylvania was made public. Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, who was due to take part in a “pioneering session on child safeguarding”, pulled out of the event.[42] Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who was due to address the conference on “"The Welfare of the Family is Decisive for the Future of the World" pulled out of the event.[43] McAleese, speaking about the report, said that the cover up of this abuse “is not only systemic, it was directed from central command and control which is the Vatican…It strikes me as impossible to believe that all bishops acted equally negligently by coincidence, that’s the problem.” [44]



In February 2018, Farrell banned Mary McAleese, former President of Ireland and award-winning Catholic academic and author, who supports women's ordination and same-sex marriage, from speaking at a conference in the Vatican on Women in the Catholic Church. [45] McAleese sought an explanation for her exclusion from Farrell's superior Pope Francis through a Canon Law process. Francis has so far failed to engage in this legal process. In August 2018, a Voices of Impact meeting was held in Dublin as part of World Meeting of Families 2018 headed by Farrell. The meeting was marketed as an opportunity for the Church to hear women's voices. Farrell refused to attend. [46]

LGBT PeopleEdit

Farrell overruled the Irish bishops and Bishop Brendan Leahy’s wish to welcome LGBT people to the world meeting of families. Farrell oversaw the removal of all references to the LGBT community from the promotional materials for the event. Irish organization We Are Church, who campaign for greater inclusion of women and LGBT people within the church, were refused permission to have a stand at the World Meeting of Families 2018. WMOF official said there was no space left, yet two weeks before the conference, organizers confirmed many stands were unfilled. Farrell refused to explain why LGBT people were systematically removed from WMOF materials. [47]

Gun controlEdit

Farrell is a supporter of gun control initiatives and opposes congressional deference to the "gun lobby".[48]


  1. ^ a b "What Did The Cardinals Know?". The American Conservative. Retrieved July 29, 2018.
  2. ^ Boburg, Sean et al., "Vatican cardinal, other priests to return cash gifts from ousted West Virginia bishop Michael Bransfield", The Washington Post, June 7, 2019
  3. ^ Hodges, Sam. "Bishop Kevin Farrell has whirlwind first year as Dallas' Catholic Diocese leader". The Dallas Morning News. Archived from the original on June 29, 2010.
  4. ^ McGarry, Patsy. "Farrell brothers: The two most senior Irish clerics in the Vatican", The Irish Times, February 2, 2018
  5. ^ a b c "The Short Biography of Bishop Kevin J. Farrell", Texas Catholic
  6. ^ "Bio".
  7. ^
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  9. ^ Brockhaus, Hannah. "Pope Francis names Cardinal Kevin Farrell camerlengo", Catholic News Agency, February 14, 2019
  10. ^ "Diocese of Dallas, United States". October 18, 2008. Retrieved May 18, 2018.
  11. ^ "Committee Membership". United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Retrieved November 18, 2008.
  12. ^ Gaetan, Victor (March 26, 2015). "The Bishops Farrell: An Answer to an Irish Mother's Prayers". National Catholic Register. Retrieved June 10, 2017.
  13. ^ "Rinunce e nomine" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. August 17, 2016.
  14. ^ "Annuncio di Concistoro per la creazione di nuovi Cardinali" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. October 9, 2016. Retrieved May 18, 2018.
  15. ^ "Titular churches and diaconates of the new cardinals" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. November 19, 2016. Retrieved May 18, 2018.
  16. ^ "Resignations and Appointments" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. June 10, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2018.
  17. ^ "Resignations and Appointments" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. December 23, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2018.
  18. ^ "Resignations and Appointments" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. February 14, 2019. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  19. ^ Brockhaus, Hannah. "Pope Francis names Cardinal Kevin Farrell camerlengo", Catholic News Agency, February 14, 2019
  20. ^
  21. ^
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  23. ^ "Resignations and Appointments". Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  24. ^ Yore, Elizabeth. "The Cardinal Sins: Kevin Farrell, Ted McCarrick and the Synod on Young People". The Remnant. Retrieved September 30, 2019.
  25. ^
  26. ^ "Catholic Bishops Beg for a Clear Policy against Evil | National Review". National Review. July 26, 2018. Retrieved July 29, 2018.
  27. ^ "McCarrick, the Bishops and Unanswered Questions". National Catholic Register. Retrieved July 29, 2018.
  28. ^ Winters, Michael Sean. "Bishop Farrell heads to Rome: What it means". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  29. ^ "University Names New Building Cardinal Farrell Hall". Retrieved July 29, 2018.
  30. ^ "University of Dallas Celebrates Completion of Cardinal Farrell Hall - Hill & Wilkinson". Hill & Wilkinson. Retrieved July 29, 2018.
  31. ^ "#FarewellFarrell". Retrieved September 1, 2018.
  32. ^ Fagnani, Francesca. "Vaticano, un dossier sul vescovo Farrell: ha convissuto per anni col cardinale dello scandalo McCarrick". Il Fatto Quotidiano.
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^ McGarry, Patsy. "Insurer Allianz denies being ‘headline sponsor’ for World Meeting of Families", The Irish Times, August 14, 2018
  39. ^ "Pope Francis’s Irish trip makes €4.4m loss for World Meeting of Families", The Sunday Times
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^
  44. ^
  45. ^
  46. ^
  47. ^
  48. ^ "Horror in Las Vegas polarises the world of religion". The Economist. October 3, 2017.

External linksEdit

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Dennis Walter Hickey
Titular Bishop of Rusuccuru
28 December 2001 – 6 March 2007
Succeeded by
Marek Mendyk
Preceded by
Charles Victor Grahmann
Bishop of Dallas
6 March 2007 – 15 August 2016
Succeeded by
Edward James Burns
New title Prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life
15 August 2016 –
Preceded by
Karl Josef Becker
Cardinal-Deacon of San Giuliano Martire
19 November 2016 –
Preceded by
Jean-Louis Tauran
Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church
14 February 2019 –