Francis X. DiLorenzo

Francis Xavier DiLorenzo
Bishop of Richmond
Church Catholic Church
Archdiocese Baltimore
Diocese Richmond
Appointed March 31, 2004
In office May 24, 2004 —
August 17, 2017
Predecessor Walter Francis Sullivan
Successor Barry C. Knestout
Ordination May 18, 1968
Consecration March 8, 1988
by James Timlin, J. Carroll McCormick, and Anthony Bevilacqua
Personal details
Born (1942-04-15)April 15, 1942
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died August 17, 2017(2017-08-17) (aged 75)
Richmond, Virginia
Previous post Auxiliary Bishop of Scranton
Bishop of Honolulu
Styles of
Francis Xavier DiLorenzo
Coat of arms of Francis Xavier DiLorenzo.svg
Reference style
Spoken style Your Excellency
Religious style Bishop

Francis Xavier DiLorenzo (April 15, 1942 – August 17, 2017) was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He was the bishop of Richmond, Virginia, from 2004 until his death in 2017.

Previously DiLorenzo was the fourth bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu, Hawaii.

Early life, education and ordination

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, DiLorenzo was ordained to the priesthood in his hometown on May 18, 1968, at the age of 26.

Auxiliary Bishop of Scranton, Pennsylvania

On January 26, 1988, he was appointed an auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Scranton. He was consecrated titular bishop of Tigias on March 8 of that year.[1]

Bishop of Honolulu

In 1994, Joseph Anthony Ferrario, the Bishop of Honolulu, fell ill and requested that the Vatican accept his resignation for health reasons. Bishop DiLorenzo was named the Apostolic Administrator of Honolulu on October 12, 1993,[2] and he was appointed bishop on November 29, 1994.[citation needed] His installation included hula dancing. In attendance were Archbishop Agostino Cacciavillan, Apostolic Delegate, Cardinal Pio Taofinu'u of Samoa, and Archbishop John R. Quinn of San Francisco. In 1997 DiLorenzo defended the use of hula in a variety of religious services in the diocese despite the Vatican's prohibition on liturgical dance, calling hula a native "sacred gesture".[3]

Opposition to homosexuality

Bishop DiLorenzo worked to teach and govern in accordance with the teachings of the Church regarding marriage, sexuality in marriage and the proper relationship between men and women. His predecessor was considered by many to have governed liberally, often not teaching or promoting the church's teaching on sexual activity being reserved for marriage and the immorality of homosexual activity. A few critics attacked Ferrario for creating a "haven" for gay clergy.[citation needed]

Bishop DiLorenzo appointed Father Marc Alexander, S.T.D., as diocesan theologian with specific instructions actively to promote the church's teaching on homosexuality and pro-life issues. Father Alexander, at Bishop DiLorenzo's behest, participated in coalitions such as the Alliance for Traditional Marriage and Hawaii's Future Today with political activist Mike Gabbard, the Mormons and other conservative groups in a campaign to prevent same sex marriage in the State of Hawaii.[citation needed]

Bishop DiLorenzo summarily dismissed Maryknoll Sister Joan Chatfield, Ph.D., as the diocesan ecumenical liaison.[citation needed]

Zero tolerance policy

Bishop DiLorenzo is often credited with creating the first zero tolerance policy[citation needed] on allegations of sexual abuse at the hands of priests—a policy that came about well before the Catholic sex abuse scandals that plagued the rest of the nation in the early 2000s.


The most outspoken critic of DiLorenzo was the rector of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace, Father Nathan Mamo.[citation needed] In a letter dated July 7, 1999, Father Mamo wrote, "I was quite upset over a whole host of problems in church governance, management and internal politics, problems which are real and grave."[4] Bishop DiLorenzo transferred Mamo from the Cathedral parish to a suburban church, Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist, in Mililani Town. Bishop DiLorenzo and Father Mamo continued to argue vehemently even after the transfer and Father Mamo decided to leave Hawai`i. He wrote: "I have become over the most recent 5 years... completely unable to keep that solemn promise with the current bishop. It's not simply a matter of differing opinions; it's a matter of integrity. I am unable to respect and obey him because my conscience doesn't allow me to cooperate in his methods."[5] While remaining incardinated in the Honolulu see, Father Mamo was accepted for service in the diocese of San Jose, California, where he ministered as a parochial vicar at Saint Joseph of Cupertino Parish with the hope of eventually returning to Hawai`i under a new bishop.

In 2002, Bishop DiLorenzo retired Father George DeCosta,[citation needed] who had published a letter critical of Bishop DiLorenzo's Island Treasures program, which honored outstanding lay parish volunteers.[6] Fr. DeCosta was the pastor of Malia Puka O Kalani Catholic Church in Keaukaha for thirty years. DeCosta later said he had taken advantage of the possibility of retiring at age 65, which required the bishop's permission, which DiLorenzo gave.[7]

Bishop of Richmond, Virginia

On March 31, 2004, the Vatican announced the transfer of Bishop DiLorenzo to the see of Richmond.[8] Bishop DiLorenzo was officially installed there on May 24, 2004.[9]

Personnel changes

Just after his installation, Bishop DiLorenzo dismissed a member of the diocese's women's commission, Judy Johnson, of Virginia Beach.[citation needed] Johnson had served as the secretary for the Women's Ordination Conference, an international group that for about 25 years has asked the Vatican to allow women to be ordained priests even though Pope John Paul II had said the subject was not open to discussion. Johnson met with Bishop DiLorenzo on June 25, 2004, and later said that he told her that her view on ordination was "not Catholic" and that she "had become a Protestant".[10]

As of June 2005, Sister Edna Maier, S.N.D., and Sister Bernice McCourt, S.N.D., both members of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, and Mrs. Elizabeth Glenn, resigned their positions as pastoral coordinators with the diocese.[citation needed] Sister Edna had served as pastoral coordinator for a total of 21 years at Saint Paschal Baylon in South Boston and at Saint Elizabeth of Hungary in Brookneal. Sister Bernice had served the diocese since 1977 at St. Mary's Church in Chesapeake, Virginia, and plans to seek a ministry in Baltimore. Mrs. Glenn had served as pastoral coordinator at Resurrection in Portsmouth and Holy Spirit in Virginia Beach. Pastoral coordinators are paid positions with the diocese that can be filled by a deacon or a layman. Appointment to these positions is made by the bishop.[11]

Upon his installation, Bishop DiLorenzo reactivated the diocese's liturgical commission and named Father Russell Smith, S.T.D., parochial vicar at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in New Kent County as diocesan theologian, a post that had been vacant since 1998.[citation needed] As theologian, Father Smith would examine for conformance to Catholic teaching all draft documents and issue approvals authorizing the publication of all printed materials generated by the diocese. Father Smith also would: (1) approve in advance any person who wishes to speak anywhere on Catholic church property in the diocese; (2) investigate complaints from parishioners who complain about liturgical abuses in a particular church and respond; and (3) recommend sanctions against persons responsible for such abuse to Bishop DiLorenzo. DiLorenzo noted that these kinds of checks and controls were needed because some people in the diocese were used to living outside the traditional boundaries of Catholicism.

Bishop DiLorenzo forcibly retired Father Thomas J. Quinlan, pastor of Holy Family Catholic Church in Virginia Beach for a history of using offensive language during mass which culminated in a grossly sacrilegious reference to the Virgin Mary at a Christmas Eve Mass, although a significant number of parishioners appealed against the decision, many applauded the decision, wondering why it had not been done sooner.[12]

Diocesan administration

Bishop DiLorenzo moved his residence[citation needed] from Cathedral Place to Midlothian. Some Catholics raised questions about the move and see it as a way to distance himself from his flock. But DiLorenzo responded that he is only 25 minutes away from the diocesan offices and that the move saved the Diocese money: "Do I need to live in a three-story building by myself? I don't think so." The three-story house was turned into offices for those working in a building that the diocese was renting for $35,000 a year. "We saved ourselves thirty-some thousand a year," said Bishop DiLorenzo, "and I moved to Midlothian, a very quiet place."

Bishop DiLorenzo ended the diocesan sexual minorities commission, which his predecessor had established in 1977.[13] He explained his decision: "What was being done was not a ministry. It was trying to make a statement... for people who see themselves discriminated against. The statement that needed to be made has been made. We are not going to make a big deal about what your fantasy sexual life is". He added that there are moral expectations for everyone: "I think most people would agree that the ministry is to call all persons to Jesus Christ in discipleship. The gender issue was not raised by Jesus.... Jesus called everyone to holiness. Are there certain groups in our population that need help in that journey?"[citation needed]

Bishop DiLorenzo increased the number of clustered parishes. He also brought in consultants to review some diocesan departments and commissions that need to be abolished.[14]

San Lorenzo Spiritual Center controversy

The spiritual director of the Richmond diocese's San Lorenzo Spiritual Center on Indian River Road, the Reverend Pantaleon Manalo, filed a lawsuit in Circuit Court,[citation needed] seeking $1.35 million alleging defamation by a group of people who accused him of financial improprieties, unexplained wealth, missing annual financial reports, abuse of power and making inappropriate sexual statements. The group consists of members or former members, of the San Lorenzo Spiritual Center, who in April 2004, sent a petition to a newly arrived Bishop DiLorenzo, alleging various acts committed by Father Manalo.

The petition helped convince the vicar forane, Msgr. Thomas J. Caroluzza, to ask for Father Manalo's resignation in December. On December 10, 2005, Bishop DiLorenzo terminated Fr. Manalo's position, but then temporarily stayed that decision. After further investigation, DiLorenzo announced that Father Manalo had done no wrong, since the diocese investigated San Lorenzo Spiritual Center and not Fr. Manalo, but he would have to step down from his leadership post at the center.[15] Although Father Manalo continued on as a spiritual director of the center and chaplain at two nearby hospitals. Bishop DiLorenzo appointed Father Salvador Anonuevo, pastor of Saint Luke parish in Virginia Beach, as administrator of the center. The San Lorenzo Spiritual Center is the site of spiritual and cultural celebrations for some 23,000 Filipinos living in Hampton Roads.[16]

On August 1, 2005, Judge Padrick, Circuit Court of Virginia, dismissed the defamation lawsuit in that it is an "intrusion into church affairs and violated the religious protections of the U.S. Constitution and the Virginia Constitution" per Brandon H. Zeigler, the defendants' attorney. Manalo's attorney, Robert L. Samuel Jr. said, he expects to appeal Padrick's ruling to the Virginia Supreme Court.[17]

Bishop DiLorenzo appointed the Rev. Jesse Enciso, Pastor of Holy Spirit Catholic Church, as the administrator of San Lorenzo Spiritual Center.[citation needed] The former administrator, Fr. Anonuevo, has returned to the U.S. after a three-month absence since May 2005. Fr. Jesse Enciso resigned his position as administrator effective October 15, 2005. This belies the difficulty and complexity that the center poses to any leadership. A new lay administrator is to be appointed by the Bishop. The Bishop has appointed Mrs. Marilyn Aguirre as interim administrator to San Lorenzo. Mrs. Aguirre and San Lorenzo Administration has reinstated Fr. Manalo as spiritual advisor to the center.


Bishop DiLorenzo died from heart and kidney failure on August 17, 2017 at St. Mary's Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, at the age of 75.[18]

See also


  1. ^ Pope John XXIII Medical-Moral Research and Education Center (1984). Moral theology today: certitudes and doubts. ISBN 9780935372144.
  2. ^ Earley, James Benedict (1994). Envisioning Faith: The Pictorial History of the Diocese of Scranton. W.T. Cooke. p. 309.
  3. ^ Bronner, Simon J. (2007). Encyclopedia of American Folklife. Routledge. ISBN 9781317471943. Retrieved 4 January 2017.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2004-08-05. Retrieved 2005-06-01.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2004-08-05. Retrieved 2005-06-01.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ letter to the editor of the Hawaii Catholic Herald[citation needed]
  7. ^ Burnett, John (August 22, 2012). "Father DeCosta accused of sex abuse". Hawaii Tribune-Herald. Archived from the original on January 4, 2017. Retrieved January 4, 2017.
  8. ^ Viotti, Vicki (March 31, 2004). "Hawai'i bishop DiLorenzo transferred to Virginia". Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved January 4, 2017.
  9. ^ "A Brief History". Catholic Diocese of Richmond. Archived from the original on 2016-03-10. Retrieved January 4, 2017.
  10. ^ "Richmond's New Bishop Cleans House". Lifesitenews. July 12, 2004. Retrieved January 4, 2017; based on reporting in Hampton Roads
  11. ^ "Article". The Catholic VIrginian. 80 (14). 2005.
  12. ^ "Letters". The Catholic Virginian. 80 (16). 2005.
  13. ^ Schleck, Dave (March 1, 1996). "Making A Home For Homosexuals". Daily Press. Retrieved January 4, 2017.
  14. ^ "Richmond Times-Dispatch: Richmond News, Sports, Politics, Classifieds…". Archived from the original on 2013-02-05.
  15. ^ [1][permanent dead link][permanent dead link]
  16. ^ "Biweekly Newspaper for the Diocese of Richmond".
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2005-12-05. Retrieved 2005-08-09.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ "Bishop DiLorenzo dies; headed Diocese of Richmond since 2004". National Catholic Reporter. Catholic News Service. Retrieved August 23, 2017.

External links

Episcopal succession

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Walter Francis Sullivan
Bishop of Richmond
2004– 2017
Succeeded by
Barry C. Knestout (designate)
Preceded by
Joseph Anthony Ferrario
Bishop of Honolulu
Succeeded by
Clarence Richard Silva
Preceded by
Auxiliary Bishop of Scranton
Succeeded by

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