Joseph A. Ferrario, the first U.S. bishop publicly accused of molesting a young boy, died on Dec. 12. Cause of death was not released. He was 77.
The Pennsylvania native was ordained in 1951, then moved to Hawaii to teach at the St. Stephen Seminary in Kane’ohe. For the next two decades, Ferrario focused on implementing the reforms handed down by the Second Vatican Council, including having priests speak in the language of the congregation, instead of Latin.
Ferrario was promoted to bishop of the Catholic diocese of Honolulu in 1982. Seven years later, however, one of his parishioners held a press conference and accused the religious leader of sexual molestation. The alleged victim filed suit, but it was dismissed because the statute of limitations had already passed.
Ferrario denied the charges, and retired early. Before he left the church, he excommunicated six of his critics; the Vatican eventually overruled him. His final years were spent raising money for Catholic scholarships as vice president and chief executive of the Augustine Educational Foundation.