BURLINGTON, Vt. -- 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 A. Angell, and then take over the Burlington Diocese, which includes all of Vermont, when Angell retires, scheduled for Aug. 3, his 75th birthday.
''There are many challenges today which face the community of believers in the Catholic Church," Matano said at a Burlington news conference with Angell, 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.
Matano is to be ordained in his new role April 19.
Matano, a native of Providence, 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 in Warwick, 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 US government.
For many Vermonters, Angell gave the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States a personal face. Angell's brother David and David's 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 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.
Matano also said the church is going through a challenging period. About 75 percent of Vermont Catholics do not participate in the life of the church, he said. 'That means a lot of education has to continue and a lot of work does have to be done."
Angell said that once he retires he expects to split his time between Vermont and Rhode Island.