Francis X. DiLorenzo

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The Most Rev. Francis Xavier DiLorenzo
Bishop of Richmond
Coat of arms of Francis Xavier DiLorenzo.svg
Church Catholic Church
See Richmond
In office May 24, 2004—present
Predecessor Most Rev. Walter Francis Sullivan
Successor incumbent
Personal details
Born (1942-04-15) April 15, 1942 (age 73)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Francis Xavier DiLorenzo (born April 15, 1942) is an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church who serves as bishop of the Diocese of Richmond in Virginia.

Previously DiLorenzo was the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Honolulu in Hawaii.

Early life, education and ordination[edit]

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[edit]

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

Bishop of Honolulu[edit]

In 1994, the previous incumbent as Bishop of Honolulu, the Most Rev. Joseph Anthony Ferrario fell ill and requested that the Vatican consider his resignation for health reasons. The Vatican's Congregation for Bishops accepted Ferrario's resignation and appointed an apostolic administrator to fulfill his episcopal duties.

Bishop DiLorenzo was moved from Pennsylvania and appointed to the Hawaii Catholic Church as the Apostolic Administrator of Honolulu. After about a year in service to the See of Honolulu as Apostolic Administrator, Bishop DiLorenzo was permanently appointed bishop on November 29, 1994.[citation needed]

Ceremonies, including native Hawaiian and multi-ethnic representation, occurred at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace (Solemn Vespers on November 28, 1994, during which he took canonical possession of the diocese) and the Co-Cathedral of Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus (at a Pontifical Mass and installation as Ordinary of the See of Honolulu in the presence of the Honolulu presbyterium). In attendance were: Archbishop Agostino Cacciavillan as the Apostolic Delegate, Cardinal Pio Taofinu'u of Samoa, Archbishop John R. Quinn of San Francisco, and many religious and laity.

Opposition to homosexuality[edit]

Bishop DiLorenzo steered the Hawai`i Catholic Church through various and often controversial issues.[citation needed] His predecessor was considered by many to have governed liberally, often not teaching or promoting the churches 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.

Bishop DiLorenzo appointed Father Marc Alexander, S.T.D. as diocesan theologian[citation needed] 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.

Another of Bishop DiLorenzo's changes for the Honolulu See was the summary dismissal of Maryknoll Sister Joan Chatfield, Ph.D., as the diocesan ecumenical liaison.[citation needed] 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. Bishop DiLorenzo emphasized this to both the Hawaiian laity as well as its clergy.

Zero tolerance policy[edit]

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.


Bishop DiLorenzo's reforms created a great deal of frustration among diocesan priests who believed that the bishop's tactics were disruptive to the larger Catholic community in Hawai`i. His most outspoken critic was the rector of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace, Father Nathan Mamo.[citation needed] In a published 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." [1] Bishop DiLorenzo transferred Father 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." [2] While remaining incardinated in the Honolulu see, Father Mamo applied and was accepted for service in the Diocese of San Jose in California where he ministers as a parochial vicar at Saint Joseph of Cupertino Parish with the hope of eventually returning to Hawai`i to serve under a new bishop.

Also, in 2003, Bishop DiLorenzo retired Father George DeCosta,[citation needed] who authored a letter to the editor of the Hawaii Catholic Herald that was critical of Bishop DiLorenzo's novel "Island Treasures" program. Fr. DeCosta served as the pastor of Malia Puka O Kalani Catholic Church in Keaukaha and founded the annual "Big Island Liturgy and Arts Conference."

Bishop of Richmond, Virginia[edit]

On March 31, 2004, the Vatican announced the transfer of Bishop DiLorenzo to the see of Richmond. Bishop DiLorenzo was officially installed at his new cathedral on May 24, 2004.[citation needed]


Dismissal of women's commission member[edit]

On the week of his installation as ordinary of the Richmond see, Bishop DiLorenzo dismissed a member of the diocese's women's commission, Judy Johnson, of Virginia Beach.[citation needed] At the time, 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 open ordination to both men and women despite the "Letter to Women" written by John Paul II which effectively ended serious debate on the subject. Johnson met with Bishop DiLorenzo on June 25, 2004, and claimed that the bishop told her that her view on ordination was "not Catholic" and that she "had become a Protestant."

Resignations of three women pastoral coordinators[edit]

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. [3]

Appointment of diocesan theologian and investigation of liturgical abuse[edit]

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 himself 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.

Move from Cathedral residence[edit]

Styles of
Francis DiLorenzo
Mitre (plain).svg
Reference style The Most Reverend
Spoken style Your Excellency
Religious style Bishop
Posthumous style none

Bishop DiLorenzo has moved his residence[citation needed] from Cathedral Place to Midlothian a 25-minute ride. Some Catholics have raised questions about the move and see it as a way to distance himself from his flock. But DiLorenzo says it wasn't, pointing out that he's only 25 minutes away from the diocesan offices. He also pointed out 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."

Dissolution of the diocesan sexual minorities commission[edit]

Bishop DiLorenzo ended the diocesan sexual minorities commission[citation needed] because it had outlived its usefulness. "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," Bishop DiLorenzo said, adding 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?"

Increase in clustering and consultant review of Curial Bodies[edit]

Bishop DiLorenzo has increased the number of clustered parishes. He has also brought in consultants to review some diocesan departments and commissions that need to be abolished. [4]


Father Thomas J. Quinlan[edit]

Bishop DiLorenzo forcibly retired Father Thomas J. Quinlan, pastor of Holy Family Catholic Church in Virginia Beach,[citation needed] 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.

San Lorenzo Spiritual Center in Virginia Beach, VA[edit]

The spiritual director of the Richmond diocese's San Lorenzo Spiritual Center on Indian River Road, the Reverend Pantaleon Manalo, has 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 subsequently 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. [5] 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. [6]

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. [7]

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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pope John XXIII Medical-Moral Research and Education Center. Moral theology today: certitudes and doubts. 

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Walter Francis Sullivan
Bishop of Richmond
2004– present
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Joseph Anthony Ferrario
Bishop of Honolulu
Succeeded by
Clarence Richard Silva
Preceded by
Auxiliary Bishop of Scranton
Succeeded by