Pope Francis has named an American, Dallas Bishop Kevin Farrell, to head the new Vatican office for families and laity.

Farrell, a former Legion of Christ priest whose brother is also a top Vatican official, becomes one of the highest-ranking Americans at the Holy See.

Francis appointed Farrell on Wednesday as he formally created the new Dicastery for the Laity, Families and Life, which combines several Vatican offices into one. The reform is part of Francis' bigger overhaul of the Vatican bureaucracy to make it more efficient and reflects the pope's focus on better ministering to Catholic families and laity.

In a related appointment Wednesday, Francis named the former head of the Vatican's office for family matters, Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia, to lead the Vatican's bioethics think tank and marriage institute.