"As you know, I have Irish roots, but I became an American priest, and up to now I am Bishop of Dallas. These days, I accompanied a large group from my own diocese to the canonization of Mother Teresa. Forgive me if I do not speak Italian well, but I haven’t practiced the language since I studied in Rome over 40 years ago.
I want to tell you that we will have to accomplish the work of this new Dicastery together; I'm not coming with a whole prepared program; I need to learn from you, because you have been carrying out this great commitment for many years. That is also what the Holy Father told me when he asked me to come to Rome to take on this assignment. Often, we think of the Church as an institution of bishops and priests, forgetting that the vast majority—over 99%—is composed of the laity, those who, as lay people, go to Mass every Sunday. Normally, the laypeople have the vocation to marry and build a family: we all come from a family, and we are destined to live in a family. The other section that constitutes the new Dicastery—Life—is related to the family because life comes from the family. The family is the heart of this new Dicastery. My experience as bishop, first as auxiliary bishop in Washington and then bishop of Dallas, confirms the importance of the Church's work in support of the family, because the faith and evangelization itself depend on the family. Therefore, I would like to continue this work, this commitment, in the new Dicastery as well. I would also like the work in the coming weeks to continue as before; the Undersecretary (Msgr. Simon Vasquez) shall continue in his functions. The new Dicastery that is now beginning will be defined better as it progresses. We shall continue the work carried forward so far serenely, without worrying."
We all address, in turn, to the new President our greetings, a warm welcome, with the assurance of our entire availability and confident cooperation.