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Dallas Bishop Kevin Farrell On His New Vatican Job And Getting A Call From The Pope

Catholic Diocese of Dallas

North Texas will say goodbye to a key figure soon. Bishop Kevin Farrell of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas has been promoted to a new job within the Vatican – as head of the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life.

Farrell spent nine years with the Catholic Diocese of Dallas, overseeing a region home to more than one million Catholics. He said he planned to spend the rest of his life in Dallas, when he received an unexpected call from Pope Francis.

Interview Highlights: Kevin Farrell…

…On the office he’ll oversee:

“In the Vatican at the moment, there already exists three separate departments that take care of everything that's got to do with the church and its relationship to the people of the world.

Sometimes people think that the church is about the clergy. Well it's not, it's about the people who go to church every Sunday to people in the pews.”

On addressing gay marriage in his new job:

“Pope Francis speaks about how we need to experience love in a world in which we live today. We understand marriage as between a man and a woman. We don't agree with same-sex marriage obviously, but it doesn't mean that we are going to reject those people. We are open and accepting and loving. They are called to love God just like each and every one of us.”

…On receiving a phone call from the Pope:

“One morning, I walked into my office and my secretary tells me, ‘the Pope's on the telephone.’ I had no idea why he was calling. The Pope doesn't call you every day.

He just went on to explain that he wanted to put special emphasis on the role of the laity in the world in the church. And he went on to say, ‘well I've got one crazy idea in my head, and that is that you come here and you head up this department.’ I gave him about 10 reasons why I shouldn't do it. He laughed and he said ‘Oh well think about him for a few days.’ I called him back up and gave him another couple of reasons why I shouldn't do. He said, ‘well why don't you come and talk to me.’

So I went to Rome and we had a two-hour meeting there in Rome. He’s a very convincing person and obviously, you do what they ask you to do.”

…On his time in Dallas:

“I came to Dallas in a difficult time. People were hurting. The church didn't have a lot of credibility at the time, and I've always tried to listen. I think one of the things we need to do today - not just in the church, but at all levels - we need to listen to each other.

We need to understand each other and not be so dogmatic or absolutist.”

Kevin Farrell is the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas. 

Former KERA staffer Krystina Martinez was an assistant producer. She produced local content for Morning Edition and She also produced The Friday Conversation, a weekly series of conversations with North Texas newsmakers. Krystina was also the backup newscaster for the Texas Standard.
Rick Holter was KERA's vice president of news. He oversaw news coverage on all of KERA's platforms – radio, digital and television. Under his leadership, KERA News earned more than 200 local, regional and national awards, including the station's first two national Edward R. Murrow Awards. He and the KERA News staff were also part of NPR's Ebola-coverage team that won a George Foster Peabody Award, broadcasting's highest honor.