The July-August double issue of Intercom is out now. In the latest issue, Intercom editor, Father Chris Hayden, speaks with Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Dublin-born Prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, ahead of the upcoming World Meeting of Families.
In the interview, Cardinal Farrell speaks on the rising role of lay people in the Vatican, and in the Universal Church. Speaking on his role he says, ‘The idea of Laity, Family and Life is to give prominence to laity: they are the most important people in the Church, not the clergy, not the bishops.
‘Pope Francis directly told me that he is tired of all these congregations taking the first role in everything. He said that he wants a department in the Vatican, for lay people, that is equivalent to all of the other congregations (for Bishops, Clergy, Religious and so on). And by lay people, he does not mean people who belong to ecclesial movements, rather to the regular people who go to church.’
Drawing on his experiences as Bishop of Dallas, Cardinal Farrell also spoke on the challenges facing priests today, and the need for support from the laity. Cardinal Farrell said, ‘There are countries where the laity run the Church. In my own experience as Bishop of Dallas, we had one priest in a parish where ten thousand people would attend Mass at the weekend. We have parishes that have a $20m annual budget. No priest is going to be able to run a parish of that magnitude without competent lay people.’
He continued, ‘In Dallas, we have a million and a half Catholics and 75 priests, with a 45-50% rate of attendance. Those 75 priests are not going to be interested in organising marriage meetings. So I would strongly defend Laity, Family and Life as an important element of the mission and pastoral life of the church. We have to worry about the 99%, about the baptised, and not worry about the other things we have been obsessed with.’
‘The basis of all human life is the family,’ Cardinal Farrell continued in his Intercom interview, ‘From the moment [Pope Francis] was elected he spoke about a synod on the family. Why? Because he saw what was happening to the family. And as the family goes, that’s the way our culture and our society are going to go, because it’s all tied to the basic unit of the family, and what we experience there is what we’re going to project into life and into the community.
‘Yes, there is an awful lot of brokenness in families, but instead of focusing always on the negative – and I would say that 80% of our work is with brokenness – I would hope that we will plant a seed of bringing people back to true values and the value of family life.’
Other topics covered in the interview include promoting the Christian vision of family, Pope Francis’ view on the role of women in the Church, promoting a culture of life.
Also in the new issue, Father Frankie Murray, of the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, reflects on WMOF 2018 while on pilgrimage in Lourdes, Dr Mary McCaughey of the Priory Instutute commemorates the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, and DCU student Oisín Walsh offers his thoughts on making the most of summer breaks.
Intercom magazine is a Catholic pastoral and liturgical resource of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference published by Veritas Group. Intercom is published ten times per year, including double issues for both July-August and December-January.
Subscriptions for Intercom can be bought by contacting Ross Delmar on 01 878 8177. For more information and resources from Intercom, please see www.intercommagazine.ie.