“The Church doesn’t want to ‘clericalize’ the laity,” affirms Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life. On July 14, 2018, Vatican News reported an interview of the Cardinal with “Intercom” magazine of the Episcopal Conference of Ireland.
There he stresses that historically, laymen had “a second-rate role” in the Church; today the Dicastery seeks to highlight them. The Pope “said openly to me that he wants a Dicastery in the Vatican like other Congregations,” where laymen are protagonists, he confides.
“The Church doesn’t want to ‘clericalize’ the laity,” he specifies. In fact, the Pope “realizes that administrative functions in the Church can be done by anyone. They have been carried out mainly by priests, but they can be done by laymen.”
Moreover, Cardinal Farrell also encourages a greater role of laymen in pastoral “activity”. “Priests aren’t necessarily the best persons to form others for marriage. They have never lived this experience even if they know Moral Theology and Dogmatic Theology in theory.” Moreover, in face of the “great fragmentation in families,” he invites not to concentrate on “negative things” but to “bring people back to authentic values, especially those of family life.”
Finally, recalling the role of women at the heart of the Church, Cardinal Farrell returns to Pope Francis’ initiatives: “before I arrived from the United States [at the Curia, ndrl], we had a long conversation. We spoke of the role of women in the United States and Pope Francis was impressed to learn that among the senior staff of my Diocese, there were 15 persons, among whom only three were men. A woman had been the Chancellor for 20 years; in the main, women made up the Court for Matrimonial Causes, all were Canon lawyers. So, when I arrived here, the Pope said to me that he didn’t want priests as Under-Secretaries of the Dicastery. He said: I want laymen. I give you two years “ . . . we appointed two [women] Under-Secretaries, a position that was always held by priests, who had been at least 20 years at the Vatican.
However, the Prefect pointed out the “danger” of transforming women into “clerics.” “No, they must be persons of the world, who live in the world,” he concluded.