Father Ferrante was the postulator general for the Redemptorists from the
early 1960s until he passed away in the late 80s. For some unknown reason
he had unprecedented and unlimited access to the reliquary of the
Vicariate of Rome. During his tenure he issued thousands of relics, much
to the consternation of the Augustinian nuns who were custodians of the
Father Francis LeBlanc was a priest and pastor of Our Lady of the Sun
International Shrine near Phoenix, Arizona. He ran into problems with the
archbishop of Phoenix when he refused to comply with all of his dictates
following Vatican 2, including continuing to say the Latin Mass. Father
LeBlanc stated that he was pastor of an international shrine and not
subject to the bishop of Phoenix. The bishop tried to remove him as a
priest but, again, he did not comply and continued to say the Latin mass
at his church. Somewhere along the line he made a connection with Father
Ferrante through an intermediary and worked out a deal where Father
Ferrante would provide LeBlanc with relics for him to give to supporters.
This infuriated the bishop even more and he stated that the relics of
LeBlanc were all fakes and requested that the Vatican relinquish the
shrine to his control. When Father Leblanc died a court battle ensued,
with the Arizona Diocese trying to take the Shrine property for itself.
Two or three high Vatican officials came in defense of the Shrine and the
Holy Relics of Leblanc and legally took charge of the Shrine, which is an
international shrine and not a diocese property, and they installed a
priest of their choosing.
The article we link on our webpage was written by a supporter of the
bishop and is full of many inaccuracies and downright lies. We have seen
hundreds of Ferrante relics over the years and have only run into a very
few that were obvious fakes. I have several lengthy emails from a fellow
in Arizona who was right in the middle of the conflict and he explained
much of it to me.
It his likely that even Father Ferrante's superiors were unaware of his
association with LeBlanc.
I might mention that a short time after the story surfaced, the archbishop
was arrested for drunken driving that caused an accident that killed a
person. The Vatican forced him into retirement.
In his earlier years Father Ferrante produced relics with documents printed on high quality papers. However, in later years, because it was expensive and no longer practical,
he switched to 'Xerox' type documents. Much of this was due to the high volume of requests being received. Due to this same factor, Father Ferrante and the Augustinian Sisters
who were helping him frequently got sloppy in their rush. Wax seals were poorly executed, mistakes were made on some documents and, at times, the seal of the Vicariate of Rome
was accidentally used rather than that of the Redemptorists.
This is the story in a nutshell. It is quite a long and complicated story.