New Vermont Bishop Named

Times Argus [Vermont]
March 4, 2005

BURLINGTON A longtime Rhode Island priest who has worked the last four years at the Vatican envoy's office in Washington has been selected by Pope John Paul II to be the new Roman Catholic bishop of Burlington.

Monsignor Salvatore R. Matano, 58, will serve as coadjutor, or assistant, bishop to the incumbent, Bishop Kenneth Angell, and then take over the Burlington Diocese, which includes all of Vermont, on Angell's retirement, scheduled for August after he turns 75.

"I have been given a great gift," Matano said at a Burlington news conference with Angell. "To be a bishop means to take the words of Jesus very seriously: 'Pick up your cross and follow me.'

"There are many challenges today which face the community of believers in the Catholic Church," he said, adding that "the bishop is looked to for guidance."

Angell has served as bishop of Vermont's 148,000 Roman Catholics since 1992, when he also came from a high-ranking post in the Rhode Island diocese. He said he knew Matano then and has great respect for him.

"I think he will be a loving father, brother," said Angell. "I think he will be a loving priest toward his people."

Matano will be ordained in his new role April 19. Angell will resign Aug. 3, his 75th birthday. Once the Vatican accepts Angell's resignation, Matano would then become bishop.

Matano was born in Providence and did his seminary studies at the Our Lady of Providence Seminary College in Warwick, R.I., and at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

He was ordained a priest in 1971 and served in several posts in the Diocese of Providence, including parish pastor, teacher at Our Lady of Providence Seminary High School, high-ranking administrator in the diocese and lecturer at Providence College at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

In 2000, Matano moved to Washington, where he has served as secretary to the papal nuncio, who represents the Vatican in its dealings with the U.S. government. The nuncio, Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, made the official announcement of Matano's appointment as Burlington bishop on Thursday.

Bishop Robert Mulvee of Providence issued a statement congratulating his longtime colleague on the appointment.

"Given his vast experience, there is no doubt that he will be a great help to Bishop Angell as he works with him and eventually succeeds him as bishop of Burlington," the statement said.

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

But Angell said at the news conference that the most difficult challenge he faced in Vermont was leading the church during the revelations about the sexual abuse of children by priests.

"People have been so shocked by all of this and it's a wonderful compliment to us really, in the sense that they expect so much more of us than anyone else and we shouldn't fail them," Angell said. "It's been very difficult and difficult for these priests too (who) have been in trouble.

"The victims first and foremost have my concern. After that I think of the priests how because of one, one little lapse or something, something terrible happened. I can't help but feel sorry for them. I decry what they did."

Matano also said the church was going through a challenging period. About 75 percent of Vermont Catholics do not participate in the life of the church, Matano said.

"That's significant. That means a lot of education has to continue and a lot of work does have to be done," Matano said.

"We are a people of hope. I mean we have had other times in the church's history when we've had difficulty but we have endured. It is probably the oldest institution in western civilization," Matano said. "So I have every hope that with the help and support of the people the ship will continue to sail and grow stronger."

Angell said that once he retires he expects to split his time between Vermont and Rhode Island.

"I am just happy that I will hopefully be able to retire and leave all of this in the capable hands of this new bishop," Angell said.


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