Joseph Anthony Ferrario

From Academic Kids

Joseph Anthony Ferrario was best known for his work with the youth, poor and his controversial ministry in service to gays and lesbians.
Joseph Anthony Ferrario was best known for his work with the youth, poor and his controversial ministry in service to gays and lesbians.

Msgr. Joseph Anthony Ferrario (March 3, 1926-December 12, 2003) was the third bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu and served from 1982 to 1993. Born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Ferrario was ordained to the priesthood on May 19, 1951 at the age of 25. Part of a religious order of educators, Ferrario taught at various schools and seminaries.

On staff at the Saint Stephen Diocesan Seminary, Honolulu on the island of O`ahu, Ferrario was appointed auxiliary bishop of Honolulu on November 8, 1977. On January 13, 1978, he was officially ordained bishop at the age of 51 and given the titular see of the ancient Egyptian city of Cusae. With his predecessor's retirement, Msgr. Ferrario was appointed bishop of Honolulu on May 13, 1982. One of his first actions as the ordinary of Honolulu was the removal of Msgr. Francis A. Marzen as editor of the diocesan newspaper, the Hawai`i Catholic Herald. Msgr. Marzen had served as editor of the newspaper for approximately twenty years under the two previous bishops and publicly complained of his dismissal in an acerbic parting editorial published in the Hawai`i Catholic Herald. Msgr. Ferrario revamped major diocesan offices and appointed pastors to parishes that were supportive of his vision of implementing the reforms of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. Ferrario's work in renewing the Honolulu See earned him the respect of a large part of the church in Hawaii; it also alienated a vocal minority of traditionalist Catholics supportive of the Tridentine Rite liturgies who were to hound him mercilessly for the remainder of his episcopate. He remained active in ministry upon early retirement on October 12, 1993 as bishop emeritus. He was most notable for his work with youth, poor, as well as his controversial ministry in service to gays and lesbians in Hawaii.

Msgr. Charles Kekumano, Hawaii's first native-born priest named a domestic prelate by Blessed John XXIII, left the diocese to work in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Juneau in Alaska when Ferrario was elevated to the episcopate.

Msgr. Ferrario rose to national prominence in 1989 becoming the first Roman Catholic bishop in the United States to be publicly accused of molesting a young boy. It is considered the opening salvo of the widespread Catholic sex abuse scandal that riveted the nation in the early 2000s. The Hawaii State Judiciary dismissed the case after having passed the statute of limitations for trial. Bishop Ferrario maintained his innocence. He was also famous for excommunicating six of his critics and supporters of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X in 1991, an action that was later overruled by the Vatican.

After years of what people called liberal governance over the Diocese of Honolulu, the Vatican appointed a conservative from Scranton, Pennsylvania, Msgr. Francis Xavier DiLorenzo, S.T.D., Titular Bishop of Tigia and Auxiliary of Scranton, as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Honolulu, after accepting Msgr. Ferrario's resignation from the See of Honolulu, for health reasons. The simultaneous notice of the Vatican's acceptance of the retirement of Msgr. Ferrario for health reasons, and the appointment of Msgr. DiLorenzo as Apostolic Administrator was read at the liturgy of Solemn Vespers at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace, on October 12, 1993. Msgr. DiLorenzo would serve as Apostolic Administrator until his permanent appointment as Bishop of Honolulu in 1994. Also a native of Pennsylvania, Msgr. Francis Xavier Dilorenzo was noted for having instituted stringent reforms of the Hawaii Catholic Church he inherited from Ferrario and quickly removed priests accused of sexual abuse even before the scandals erupted elsewhere in the country.


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