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Bishop DiLorenzo of Richmond dies

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RICHMOND, Va. — Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo of Richmond died at St. Mary’s Hospital in Richmond late Aug. 17 from heart and kidney failure. He was 75.

A rite of reception was scheduled for the afternoon of Aug. 25, followed by visitation, at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Richmond. The diocese said the cathedral was to remain open with the body of Bishop DiLorenzo lying in repose through the night. A funeral Mass for the bishop was to be celebrated Aug. 25 followed by entombment in the Cathedral Crypt.

A native of Philadelphia, he was named the 12th bishop of Richmond by St. John Paul II March 31, 2004. Before he was appointed to the Virginia diocese, he was the bishop of Honolulu. He also was a former auxiliary bishop in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

“He was a faithful servant of the church for 49 years and a shepherd of the Diocese of Richmond for 13 years,” said Msgr. Mark Richard Lane, vicar general. He said he was announcing the bishop’s death “with great sadness.”

Pope Benedict XVI greets Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo of Richmond, Va., during a meeting with U.S. bishops on their “ad limina” visits to the Vatican in this 2012, file photo. Bishop DiLorenzo died Aug. 17. He was 75. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)

“Bishop DiLorenzo had a profound understanding and faith in the eucharistic sacrifice of our Lord, which sees past the Cross and into eternal life with our Savior,” the priest added. “With that same faith and hope, we look forward to our happy reunion.”

Bishop DiLorenzo was one of the first to call for peace during the chaos- and hate-filled weekend in Charlottesville, when white supremacists holding a rally clashed with counterprotesters Aug. 11 and 12. The events led to the deaths of three people and injuries to more than 19 others. His first statement Aug. 11 was followed by a second one the next day.

“In the last 24 hours, hatred and violence have been on display in the city of Charlottesville,” said Bishop DiLorenzo. “I earnestly pray for peace.”

In a statement about his passing, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington said that over the years he knew Bishop DiLorenzo,

“He has always been highly regarded for his firm grasp of the church’s moral teaching and as a pastoral leader. We share the bond of having been ordained priests of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and of serving as rector of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. He will be dearly missed.”

Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori remembered Bishop DiLorenzo as a “good moral theologian,” an “excellent seminary rector” and a bishop who “cheerfully did whatever the church asked of him.”

The archbishop had known Bishop DiLorenzo since the late 1980s, when Bishop DiLorenzo was named auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Scranton.

“He had a personality that was larger than life,” said Archbishop Lori, who had worked with Bishop DiLorenzo more closely in the past five years after being named archbishop of Baltimore. The Diocese of Richmond is part of the ecclesiatical province of Baltimore.

“He had a wonderful sense of humor,” Archbishop Lori said. “He was a realist who understood how to face difficult situations, but he always brought good things out of these situations.”

Archbishop Lori recalled that when he heard his friend’s health was not well earlier in August, he called him.

“He said, ‘You know, I looked over my medical record and found I had never had viral pneumonia before,’” Archbishop Lori recalled. “He said, ‘I thought I had better have that at this time in my life, and so that’s what I got.’”

Even a serious illness was taken in stride and “with a lot of humor,” Archbishop Lori said.

Born April 15, 1942, Francis Xavier DiLorenzo was the son of an Italian-American butcher and a homemaker, Samuel and Anita Porrino DiLorenzo. He was the oldest of three children born to the couple. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 1968 and served in pastoral and educational assignments until 1971.

In Rome, he earned a licentiate in sacred theology in 1973 from the Academia Alphonsiana and a doctorate in sacred theology in 1975 from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Then-Father DiLorenzo served as chaplain and instructor in theology at St. Pius X High School, Pottstown, Pa., from 1975 to 1977. In 1977, he was appointed chaplain and associate professor of moral theology at Immaculata College.

In 1983, he became vice rector of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, becoming rector two years later. In 1988, he was named auxiliary bishop of Scranton.

He was appointed apostolic administrator of Honolulu Oct. 12, 1993, when Bishop Joseph A. Ferrario, head of the diocese since 1982, retired for health reasons. On Oct. 4 1994, he became the bishop of Honolulu.

At his Mass of installation to head the Richmond diocese, Bishop DiLorenzo told the 1,200 people in the congregation that he saw his role as servant leader in which he has to preach and teach the Gospel of Jesus.

“As a follower of Jesus and a bishop in his church, I should imitate his example and be a servant leader,” he said.

A moral theologian and a lover of history, Bishop DiLorenzo was known for his humility, his booming voice — he frequently broke into song — and his concern for those less fortunate, which he addressed especially through his interest in Catholic schools and lay Catholic formation.

During his tenure, vocations to the priesthood were a high priority. By the time of his death he had ordained 22 men to the priesthood. Enrollment in seminary had increased two-and-a-half-fold, from nine men enrolled in seminary to 31.

He is credited with saving Catholic schools in the Richmond diocese with the formation of the McMahon-Parater Foundation, whose mission is to strengthen schools by providing scholarships and financial assistance, as well as professional development.

In 2004, with now-retired Bishop Paul S. Loverde of Arlington, he established the Virginia Catholic Conference to represent the bishops and their dioceses on public policy issues in the state capital of Richmond and with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington.

In 2014, he launched the first capital campaign for the Richmond diocese, “Living Our Mission,” which raised $105 million to strengthen parishes, support clergy, advance the mission of spreading the Gospel, and develop the future church.

     

Contributing to this story was George P. Matysek Jr. in Baltimore.

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Bishops decry ‘abhorrent acts of hatred,’ racism, white supremacy in Charlottesville, Va.

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — In the aftermath of a chaos- and hate-filled weekend in Virginia, Catholic bishops and groups throughout the nation called for peace after three people died and several were injured following clashes between pacifists, protesters and white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia on Aug. 11 and 12.

White nationalists are met by counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 12 during a demonstration over a plan to remove the statue of a Confederate general from a city park. Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, condemned the violence and hatred and offered prayers for the family and loved ones of the person who was killed, and for all those who were injured. (CNS photo/Joshua Roberts, Reuters)

A 32-year-old paralegal Heather D. Heyer was killed when a car plowed into a group in Charlottesville on Saturday. Various news outlets have identified the driver as James Alex Fields, who allegedly told his mother he was attending a rally for President Donald Trump. Reports say the car allegedly driven by Fields plowed into a crowd during a white nationalist rally and a counter-rally on Aug. 12 in the afternoon.

The bishop from the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, Virginia was one of the first to call for peace following the violence in Charlottesville late on Aug. 11, which led to the events the following day.

On the evening of Aug. 11, The Associated Press and other news outlets reported a rally of hundreds of men and women, identified as white nationalists, carrying lit torches on the campus of the University of Virginia. Counter-protesters also were present during the rally and clashes were reported. The following day, at least 20 were injured and the mayor of Charlottesville confirmed Heyer’s death later that afternoon via Twitter after the car allegedly driven by Fields rammed into the crowd of marchers. Two Virginia State Police troopers also died when a helicopter they were in crashed while trying to help with the violent events on the ground.

“In the last 24 hours, hatred and violence have been on display in the city of Charlottesville,” said Richmond Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo in a statement on the afternoon of Aug. 12. “I earnestly pray for peace.”

Charlottesville is in Bishop DiLorenzo’s diocese.

Virginia’s governor declared a state of emergency Aug. 12 when violence erupted during the “Unite the Right” white nationalist protest against the removal of a statue of a Confederate general. But the trouble already had started the night before with the lit torches and chants of anti-Semitic slogans on the grounds of the University of Virginia.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, called the events “abhorrent acts of hatred,” in an Aug. 12 statement. He said they were an “attack on the unity of our nation.”

Other groups, including many faith groups, seeking to counter the white nationalist events showed up during both events. Authorities reported clashes at both instances.

“Only the light of Christ can quench the torches of hatred and violence. Let us pray for peace,” said Bishop DiLorenzo in his statement. “I pray that those men and women on both sides can talk and seek solutions to their differences respectfully.”

On Twitter, Jesuit Father James Martin denounced racism as a sin and said: “All Christians, all people of faith, should not only reject it, not only oppose it, but fight against it.”

Other bishops quickly followed denouncing the violence.

“May this shocking incident and display of evil ignite a commitment among all people to end the racism, violence, bigotry and hatred that we have seen too often in our nation and throughout the world,” said Bishop Martin D. Holley, of the Diocese of Memphis, Tennessee in an Aug. 13 statement. “Let us pray for the repose of the souls of those who died tragically, including the officers, and for physical and emotional healing for all who were injured. May ours become a nation of peace, harmony and justice for one and all.”

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia said racism was the “poison of the soul,” and said in a statement that it was the United States’ “original sin” and one that “never fully healed.”

He added that, “blending it with the Nazi salute, the relic of a regime that murdered millions, compounds the obscenity.”

On Aug. 13, Cardinal DiNardo, along with Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued a statement saying: “We stand against the evil of racism, white supremacy and neo-Nazism. We stand with our sisters and brothers united in the sacrifice of Jesus, by which love’s victory over every form of evil is assured.”

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