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Most Rev. Joseph John Gerry, O.S.B.
Denomination Roman Catholic Church
Senior posting
See Portland
Title Bishop of Portland
Period in office February 21, 1989—February 10, 2004
Consecration April 21, 1986
Predecessor Edward Cornelius O'Leary
Successor Richard Joseph Malone
Religious career
Priestly ordination June 12, 1954
Previous bishoprics Auxiliary Bishop of Manchester (1986-1988)
Personal
Date of birth September 12, 1928 (1928-09-12) (age 81)
Place of birth Millinocket, Maine

Joseph John Gerry, O.S.B. (born September 12, 1928) is an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Portland from 1989 to 2004.

Biography

Joseph Gerry was born in Millinocket, Maine, and graduated from George W. Stearns High School in 1945.[1] He then entered St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, and made his profession as a member of the Order of St. Benedict (more commonly known as the Benedictines) on July 2, 1948, following his novitiate at St. Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.[1] He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Anselm College in 1950, and completed his theological studies at St. Anselm Abbey.[1]

On June 12, 1954, Gerry was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Matthew Francis Brady, at St. Joseph's Cathedral.[2] He earned a Master of Arts in philosophy from the University of Toronto in 1955, and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Fordham University in 1959.[3] From 1958 to 1986, he was professor of philosophy and humanities at St. Anselm College.[1] He was named sub-prior (1959) and later prior (1963) of St. Anselm Abbey, becoming its third Abbot on January 6, 1972.[1] At the college, he also served as academic dean (1971-72) and chancellor (1972-1986).[1]

On February 4, 1986, Gerry was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Manchester and Titular Bishop of Praecausa by Pope John Paul II.[2] He received his episcopal consecration on the following April 21 from Bishop Odore Joseph Gendron, with Bishops Ernest John Primeau and Robert Edward Mulvee serving as co-consecrators.[2] In February 1988 he was elected moderator of the Secretariat for Interreligious Relations in the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. Gerry was named the tenth Bishop of Portland, Maine, on December 27, 1988, and was installed at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on February 21, 1989.[2]

During his 15-year-long tenure, he published roughly one pastoral letter per year, treating such topics as Vocations, the sacrament of Confirmation, and human sexuality.[4] He was forced to consolidate parishes in Old Town, Lisbon, and Waterville.[4] He publicly opposed partial-birth abortion and physician-assisted suicide in state referendums in 1999 and 2000 respectively.[4] He opened St. Dominic Regional High School in 2002.[4]

Gerry has been criticized for his management of cases of sexual abuse of minors by priests in the Portland Diocese. In one instance, he transferred Rev. Raymond Melville to another parish after he was accused of child molestation; Melville continued to abuse children at his new assignment before leaving the priesthood in 1997.[5] Records show he also allowed Revs. Michael Doucette and John Audibert to remain in active ministry despite admitting to committing abuse.[5] In a 2004 letter to Maine Catholics, Gerry declared, "This abuse and the damage it has inflicted on the survivors is indeed scandalous...To all survivors, I am profoundly sorry for the abuse you endured and the pain that lives on."[6]

Upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75, Gerry submitted his letter of resignation to John Paul II in September 2003.[7] His resignation was accepted on February 10, 2004, and he was succeeded by Richard Joseph Malone.[2] Gerry then retired to St. Anselm Abbey in Manchester.[7]

References

Preceded by
Edward Cornelius O'Leary
Bishop of Portland
1989–2004
Succeeded by
Richard Joseph Malone
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