New bishop named for Burlington Diocese

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(Host) Vermont Catholics have a new leader. On Thursday, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington announced that Pope John Paul the Second has appointed Monsignor Salvatore Matano to succeed Bishop Kenneth Angell when Angell retires.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports.

(Zind) Seated together under the gaze of a large portrait of Vermont’s first bishop, Louis De Goesbriand, Angell introduced the man who will be the ninth bishop in the 130-year history of the diocese.

(Angell) “He is a priestly man, an intelligent man, a great teacher, preacher. He has so many great qualities about him.”

(Zind) The 58-year old Matano began his remarks with a joke about Angell’s introduction.

(Mutano) “It is truly a wonderful person that Bishop Angell has spoken of this morning and I hope in my lifetime I have the opportunity to meet this person.”

(Zind) Like Angell, the silver haired Mutano is a Rhode Island native. Before Angell became Vermont’s bishop thirteen years ago, the two worked together in the Providence Diocese. Mutano has served as a parish priest and diocese administrator.

He currently works at the Vatican Embassy in Washington D.C. He will be ordained in April and will serve as a coadjutor bishop until Angell’s retirement, which could come as early as August.

Mutano says the Vermont diocese faces challenges similar to those of other diocese. He pointed out that of the 149,000 Vermonters who identify themselves as Catholic, only a quarter are active churchgoers.

(Mutano) “That’s significant. That means a lot of work has to continue and a lot of work has to be done.”

(Zind) Mutano said he would contribute to but doesn’t expect to alter the plans under way to possibly close or consolidate parishes as a result of a serious shortage of priests. Bishop Angell is expected to announce those plans within the next month.

Perhaps signaling a different approach to issues like civil unions, which Bishop Angell strongly opposed, Mutano said it’s important to be careful in dealing with questions surrounding relationships and what he called “matters of the heart” – and recognize that not everyone is receptive to the views of the church.

The new bishop may already find himself at odds with many Vermonters on one issue. He’s a Yankees fan.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind in Burlington.

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