Father Farrell has been head of the office of the General Affairs Section of the Vatican Secretariat of State. He succeeds Bishop Marc Ouellet, who was appointed archbishop of Quebec last month.
The Pope will also raise Father Farrell to the dignity of bishop, ordaining him Jan. 6 in St. Peter's Basilica. His brother Kevin Farrell was appointed auxiliary bishop of Washington, D.C., last year.
Brian Farrell was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1944. He entered the Legion of Christ in 1961 and was ordained a priest in 1969. He was superior of the Legion's U.S. novitiate from 1970 to 1976. In 1981 he received a doctorate in theology from the Gregorian University of Rome.
He entered the service of the Vatican Secretariat of State that year, being appointed head of the English-speaking Office of the General Affairs Section in January 1999.
The Council for Promoting Christian Unity, whose president is Cardinal Walter Kasper, is entrusted with the promotion, within the Catholic Church, of an authentic ecumenical spirit according to the 1964 decree "Unitatis Redintegratio."
The council also aims to develop dialogue and collaboration with the religious denominations and world communions.