Pope Francis has nominated Dublin-born Cardinal Kevin Farrell as a new camerlengo. The role of camerlengo includes overseeing the preparations for a papal conclave and managing the administration of the Holy See in the period between a pope’s death or renunciation and the election of a new pope.

Cardinal Farrell (71), is currently Prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life and a former bishop of Dallas.

The office of camerlengo of the Catholic Church, is situated within the pontifical household and has been vacant since the death of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran in July last year.

As part of taking on the role of camerlengo, Cardinal Farrell will take an oath before Pope Francis, who will give him a scepter, a symbol of the authority of the camerlengo.

Born in Ireland and ordained a priest in 1978 as a member of the Legion of Christ, Cardinal Farrell served as director of Washington’s Spanish Catholic Center, before becoming the archdiocese’s finance officer in 1989. In 2002, he became an auxiliary bishop of Washington.  He was named Bishop of Dallas in 2007, where he served until his appointment as the first ever prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life in August 2016, which put him in charge of the planning of the World Meeting of Families 2018 in Dublin and World Youth Day in 2019 in Panama last month.

The camerlengo is one of two head officials of the Roman Curia who do not lose their office while the papacy is vacant. The position of camerlengo, which is regulated by the apostolic constitutions Pastor bonus and Universi dominici gregis, administers Church finances and property during the interregnum.

Paragraph 17 of Universi dominici gregis establishes that “the Camerlengo of Holy Roman Church must officially ascertain the Pope’s death” and “must also place seals on the Pope’s study and bedroom,” and later “the entire papal apartment.”

The camerlengo is also responsible for notifying the cardinal vicar for Rome of the pope’s death, who then notifies the people of Rome by special announcement. He takes possession of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican and Palaces of the Lateran and of Castel Gandolfo and manages their administration.

During the vacancy of the Apostolic See, the Camerlengo of Holy Roman Church has the duty of safeguarding and administering the goods and temporal rights of the Holy See, with the help of the three Cardinal Assistants, having sought the views of the College of Cardinals, once only for less important matters, and on each occasion when more serious matters arise,” the constitution states.

It is the Pope himself who chooses the Cardinal to fill the position of camerlengo, though he may also leave it vacant, in which case, the College of Cardinals would hold an election to fill the office at the start of a sede vacante.

ENDS