Vermont Bishop Due to Retire

By Wilson Ring
Associated Press, carried in Times Argus [Vermont]
November 24, 2004

BURLINGTON The bishop of Vermont's 148,000 Roman Catholics, who led the church through the debate about gay marriage and the priest child abuse scandal, is due to retire next summer.

Under church law the Rev. Kenneth Angell of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, which includes all of Vermont, is required to submit his resignation on his 75th birthday, Aug. 3.

It will be then up to the Vatican to accept or reject his resignation, said diocese Chancellor the Rev. Walter Miller.

"At age 75 the letter has to be submitted. When it is taken up by the Holy See, it is anyone's guess," Miller said.

If Angell's resignation is accepted it will be up to the Vatican to appoint a replacement.

The bishops in the church's regional province, which includes Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts, will nominate a replacement, but the Vatican does not have to choose from that list, Miller said.

The candidate wouldn't know he was being considered until shortly before the appointment is announced publicly, making it impossible for priests to advocate for themselves, Miller said.

But the new bishop would likely come from the region, a way to ensure the new bishop is familiar with the cultural norms of the area.

Angell became Vermont's bishop in November 1992 after serving as the auxiliary bishop of Providence, R.I.

He replaced Bishop John Marshall who moved to Springfield, Mass. Marshall has since died.

During his 12 years in Vermont, Angell has led the church's opposition to such emotional issues as abortion rights and civil unions.

For many Vermonters Angell gave the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States a personal face. Angell's brother David Angell and his wife Lynn were in one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center in New York.

During Angell's 12 years as bishop he also helped lead the church through the scandal involving priests sexually abusing children and he has helped the church deal with the ongoing shortage of priests. Many parishes across the state have been closed or consolidated.

Miller said the new bishop, whenever he is chosen, will have to deal with the same issues.


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