This weekend and next I have a fascinating guest on Vatican Insider – Fr. Bill Petrie, pastor of St. Damien parish on the Hawaiian island of Molokai’i. We have been friends for a number of years and usually meet on Kalaupapa, a peninsula of Molokai’i, to talk about St. Damien or St. Marianne Cope and their work there with victims of leprosy. A week ago we met in Honolulu to talk about his 25 years of work with Mother Teresa! 25 years! Tons of insight and remarkable stories about this holy woman who will be declared a saint in two weeks!

Here we are on the lanai of our friends, the McKinneys. As you will hear me say in Part 2 of the interview, a rainbow graced a nearby hill just as we finished our conversation– you can see it over Fr. Bill’s shoulder.



You will hear this little fellow (or another member of his family) in the background of our conversation. One of these little creatures started singing every morning at sunrise, usually about 5:40 am and often on the lanai right outside my bedroom. There also was a rooster somewhere in the hills but a certain point he became quiet while the birds continued to sing (so to speak).


As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00 am (Eastern time). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK FOR YOUR TIME ZONE. Past shows are in VI archives:


(Vatican Radio) Bishop Kevin J. Farrell of the Diocese of Dallas, Texas, said he was “humbled” when Pope Francis asked him to be the new prefect of the new dicastery for Laity, Family and Life.

“I was obviously humbled by the fact that the Holy Father would ask me to go and do such an important work,” Bishop Farrell told Vatican Radio.

“I have always considered myself to be just a bishop of the diocese and at service to the people here, so when you get a call from the Holy Father asking you to do something like this you cannot but be amazed and humbled at the same time by the whole venture,” he said.

He takes up his new position in just a matter of weeks: The new dicastery has a start date of September 1, when it takes over the duties of the Pontifical Councils for the Family and for the Laity (when they cease to exist as councils).

“I look forward to it,” Bishop Farrell said.

“It seems to me to be a great challenge, especially given the fact that the Holy Father’s letter Amoris laetitia is so important and so well-received by the whole world; and being in charge of what was the Council for the Family, obviously that is going to be my number one agenda,” he continued. “And obviously to promote lay ministry, and to ensure that the lay people take their rightful place in the Church, and to promote the apostolate of the laity in the world. I see it as a challenge. I didn’t expect this at this stage in my life, but that’s where we are!”

When Bishop Farrell arrives in Rome, he will become the second Bishop Farrell at the Vatican: His older brother, Bishop Brian Farrell, is the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

“Yes, I do have a brother there that works there in the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity,” Bishop Kevin Farrell said.

“I am looking forward to it,” – he explained. – “We have been priests for many, many years, but we have never worked together in the same city, so it will be unique, it will be change.”


On August 26, 2016, the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See will launch an online tribute to Mother Teresa. Check the home page on that date:

Saint Mother Teresa, the founder of the Missionaries of Charity, was often a guest in the United States. An adamant pro-life advocate and opponent of the death penalty, she opened her first American-based house of charity in New York in 1971. She was a frequent guest at the White House, met with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the World Food Resolution, addressed the United Nations in New York, and became an honorary American citizen in 1996. Although the Nobel Peace Prize winner was often the attention of the powerful and the media, she never forgot her true calling to care for the poor and sick.

With materials collected from her past collaborators in organizations such as Catholic Relief Services, our tribute will feature original speeches, congressional records, and rare photographs, all of which speak to her tireless efforts to rid the world of poverty, homelessness, and hunger.



My first day back on the job, so to speak, started with a bang and that is today’s main piece of news from the Vatican – the official establishment of the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, and the naming of a prominent American as its first head.

I faced the day with great satisfaction for another reason: I was finally able to open my suitcase. Our doorman Carlo is on vacation and his substitute did not know where Carlo keeps the tools that could have helped me remove the lock so I did the next best thing – I went to the neighborhood gelateria!

You see, a friend had told me yesterday that Giorgio, the owner of Capitano Cono ice cream shop, about 30 feet from my front door, had a ton of tools in his shop and could undoubtedly help me. Giorgio had taken a few days off and was not in his store yesterday but he was there today and assured me he’d be able to open my luggage – and he did! It felt like Christmas!

I try to exert a lot of self discipline when I walk by Capitano Cono – and that’s several times a day!– because their ice cream is superlative, as are other desserts they offer. I’ve written about it before and I always tell people to come here for gelato when they are in the vicinity of the Vatican.

And now, on to the news….

It is Wednesday and the Holy Father held the weekly general audience in a jam-packed Paul VI Hall and also met this afternoon with French President Francois Hollande but I want to focus on the news of the new Vatican dicastery.


The big news here today was the Apostolic Letter Moto Proprio by Pope Francis that officially establishes the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life. A big part of this story is that the Holy Father named Irish-born American Bishop Kevin Joseph Farrell of Dallas, Texas as prefect of the dicastery.


The title of the Latin language document, “Sedula Mater” means “caring mother.”

Bishop Farrell was ordained for the Legionaries of Christ but became incardinated into the Archdiocese of Washington when he was named as an auxiliary in 2001. He was appointed to Dallas in 2007 and currently serves as treasurer of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. His brother is Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promiting Christian Unity.

The new Dicastery, said a Vatican statement, will be governed by special Statues and all responsibilities and functions held by the current Pontifical Councils for the Laity and for the Family will be transferred to the new office on September 1 when these two councils cease to exist.

Up to now, the heads of the nine Vatican offices known as congregations have been called ‘prefects.’ Those heading the various pontifical councils – 11 councils until recently – have the title of ‘president’. Pope Francis calls the new office a Dicastery and names its head a prefect but has not specified whether it will become a congregation.

In Sedula Mater Francis writes: “As a loving Mother, the Church has always throughout the centuries shown her concern for the laity, the family and life, by witnessing our Lord’s merciful love for humanity and we want to ensure that the riches of Jesus Christ are poured out appropriately and with profusion among the faithful.

“For this reason,” he continues, “we are taking prompt moves so that that the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia can respond to the situation of our times and adapt to the needs of the universal Church. In particular, our thoughts are turned towards the laity, the family and life to whom we wish to offer our support and help so that they are active witnesses of the Gospel.”

The family was the subject of two synods of bishops in 2014 and 2015 and of an entire series of Wednesday general audience catecheses between those two October meetings.

Outgoing president of the council for the family, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, was named by Pope Francis as the new president of the Pontifical Academy for Life. He was also appointed as Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family. The new president of this institute, named today by the Pope, is Msgr. Pierangelo Sequeri, up to now dean of the Theology Faculty of Northern

Pope Francis’ appointment of Bishop Farrell to an important new Vatican dicastery comes just over a month after he named another American to head a Vatican office when he appointed Greg Burke as director of the Holy See Press Office.