Defending the 12th century since the 14th; blogging since the 21st.

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Wednesday, March 31, 2004
New Bishop of Richmond, Va.

Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo

* Takes over on May 24.

* Currently Bishop of Honolulu, a problem diocese when he was assigned there in 1994. I don't know whether/how it's improved since.

* Before that, he was Auxiliary Bishop of Scranton, PA, and his principal consecrator as bishop was former Scranton Bishop James Timlin. This is good. Timlin was a conservative bishop and Scranton was a conservative diocese. Timlin was noted for his hospitality toward the Tridentine Rite, so southern Virginia Tridheads should be optimistic.

* He was born in Philadelphia, ordained priest there, and was for a while rector of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. This is considered one of the best seminaries in the States, and it trained some very fine priests whom I knew in the Arlington Diocese, though I believe they studied there well after DiLorenzo's tenure as rector.

* A new diocese for southeastern Virginia remains a possibility, but apparently it is not on the front burner.

It may be very misleading to form one's first impressions of a bishop based on what details the Associated Press chooses to report about his first press conference, but fwiw, here's what they say:

DiLorenzo, 61, flashed a Hawaiian "hang loose" sign as he entered the news conference announcing his appointment and greeted everyone with an "aloha."

He said he plans to work to restore faith in the Catholic Church, which has been beset by scandals involving sexual abuse by priests, saying that "we all have our family problems" and that the church shouldn't be judged by the actions of a few.

DiLorenzo also said he will reach out to people who have strayed from the church, making sure parishes are warm and welcoming places and enacting other outreach strategies.

"We invite inactive and alienated Catholics to come home," he said.


DiLorenzo has been Honolulu's bishop since 1994, after serving as the diocese's apostolic administrator the previous year. Before that, he was auxiliary bishop of the Scranton, Pa., diocese since 1988.

He said the Pope had no agenda when he appointed him. But, he said, his top priority is to uphold the church's anti-abortion stance and to promote social justice issues with parishioners and government representatives.

"If the value of life is not upheld, then the foundation is going to fall apart," DiLorenzo said.

Edited to add: Here are some things -- mostly good -- that I found while exploring Bishop DiLorenzo's current diocesan website:

* Here is a list of book required in every rectory in Hawaii. Most are bland and official, but note one by Gabe Hauk, liturgical terrorist extraordinaire.

* Here is his directive permitting the Tridentine Mass in Hawaii.

* His liturgy office published this defense of standing during the Eucharistic prayer and Communion, but it is not clear that this is diocesan policy. All of his directives on liturgical posture seem to have do with integration (or not) of "native" Hawaiian customs.

* His liturgy office also republished the 1997 Vatican instruction against participation of the non-ordained in certain liturgical functions.

* Here he reiterates the restrictions on the use of general absolution.

* The sacraments section of the diocesan website includes Cardinal Meyer's letter to bishops encouraging use of the Tridentine indult.

* The diocesan homepage is dominated by a beautiful photo of a stone Stabat Mater scene: Crucifix with traditional corpus (i.e. not "flying off"), with Mary and St. John.

* The site also contains links to two Catholic homeschooling organizations, a link to Catholic World Report (very sound), and other good links. None to the NCReporter or anything comparable.

* The Social Ministry section of the website contains stuff about actually helping people who are poor, not about political organizing.