Dallas Dubliner Bishop Headed to the Vatican

Bishop Kevin J. Farrell. (Official Photograph / Courtesy of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas)
Bishop Kevin J. Farrell. (Official Photograph / Courtesy of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas)

By Tom Deignan, Contributor
October / November 2016

Dallas bishop Kevin J. Farrell, a Dublin native, has been named to a new position at the Vatican.

In August, Pope Francis named Farrell – who had served nearly a decade as Bishop of Dallas, Texas – the leader of a new Vatican department designed to explore matters related to “the Laity, the Family and Life.”

This comes at a time when reformers are calling for changes in the church’s position on a wide range of issues that affect families, from gays and lesbians to divorce. In September, former Irish president Mary McAleese called on the Pope to end the church’s ban on contraception.

“The damage inflicted on the poor, on women, on children is a millstone,” said McAleese.

Wading into such controversial turf may take some of the shine off Farrell, who has a strong reputation, even among church critics.

Farrell speaks fluent Spanish as well as Italian and earned praise in Dallas in the wake of the sex abuse scandals.

As the Dallas Morning News put it, the city was “straining to deal with the aftermath of some of the nation’s worst sexually predatory priest scandals. And internal tensions, partly arising from those scandals, created a frosty relationship among diocesan leaders and with the community.”

According to Gerard O’Connell in America, “Pope Francis’s decision to choose an American bishop to head this new department is a clear sign of his high esteem for the church in the United States and for the people of this country that he came to know during his visit last year.” ♦

 

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