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Kenneth Anthony Angell

Kenneth Anthony Angell (born August 3, 1930) is an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Burlington from 1992 to 2005.


One of three children, Kenneth Angell was born in Providence, Rhode Island, to Henry and Mae (n e Cooney) Angell.[1] After attending public elementary schools in East Providence, he studied at Our Lady of Providence Seminary in Warwick and at St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore, Maryland.[1] Angell was ordained to the priesthood on May 26, 1957.[2] He then served as parochial vicar at St. Mark Church in Jamestown and at Sacred Heart Church in Pawtucket.[1] After serving at St. Mary's Church in Newport, Angell then received his first pastorate at St. John's Church in Providence.[1] From 1968 to 1972, he was assistant chancellor of the Diocese of Providence and secretary to Bishop Russell McVinney.[1] He served as chancellor under Bishop Louis Edward Gelineau from 1972 to 1974, and was raised to the rank of Honorary Prelate of His Holiness in December 1972.[1] He became vicar general of the diocese in August 1974.[1]

On August 9, 1974, Angell was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Providence and Titular Bishop of Septimunicia by Pope Paul VI.[2] He received his episcopal consecration on the following October 7 from Bishop Gelineau, with Archbishop John Francis Whealon and Bishop John Francis Hackett serving as co-consecrators, at the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul.[2] After nearly 20 years as an auxiliary in Providence, Angell was named the eighth Bishop of Burlington, Vermont, by Pope John Paul II on October 6, 1992.[2] He was installed at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on November 9, 1992.[2]

Faced with a shortage of priests and decline in weekly Mass attendance, Angell was forced to consolidate Sacred Heart and St. Francis de Sales in Bennington as well as St. Cecilia and St. Frances Cabrini in East Barre, and to close Our Lady of the Lake in .[3] A strong opponent of same-sex marriage, he unsuccessfully campaigned against H.B. 847, which granted civil unions to homosexual couples with the same rights and privileges accorded to married couples, in 2000.[4] Speaking to the Vermont House of Representatives, he said, "Do not let the court or anybody else push you around. You have no duty, moral or constitutional, to weaken the institution of marriage. If the court thinks otherwise, then let the people overrule the court. This is the United States of America. We are not ruled by kings, whether on a throne or in the courtroom."[4] In 2001 he wrote to the House to express his opposition to capital punishment, saying, "We must not perpetuate the crime of murder by becoming a society that kills for retribution...We must not promote or justify a culture of vengeance. We cannot hope to teach that killing is wrong by killing."[5]

His younger brother David Angell, the Emmy Award-winning creator and producer of Frasier, and his wife Lynn died during the September 11 attacks aboard American Airlines Flight 11.[6][7] Later speaking of his loss, Angell said, "Our family was devastated, and yet in times of such crisis you get strength that's rather incredible. You don't really know where it comes from. It comes ultimately from God, but it comes through many people who are supportive. It comes from one's faith and the belief that the Lord takes care of us, and that his will must be done."[8] In response to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Angell declared, "Our hopes of avoiding war were quashed today, but our prayers for peace will not end until this war does...We pray for the safety and deliverance of the innocent citizens in Iraq, that they be protected from harm and freed from oppression. We pray their terror will be of short duration and that their rewards will be a new country based on freedom and democratic principles, supported by a united international community."[9]

Angell received Salvatore Ronald Matano as his coadjutor bishop in April 2005.[10] Upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75, he submitted his letter of resignation to Pope Benedict XVI in August 2005. After 13 years as Bishop of Burlington, his resignation was accepted on November 9 of that year.[2]

Sexual abuse scandals

Angell has been criticized for his management of sexual abuse allegations during his tenure in the Diocese of Providence, which experienced the longest legal battle over such allegations in the nation and later announced a $13.5 million settlement in 36 different lawsuits in 2002.[6][11][12] In 1989 he promised to "take care of it" when a Providence priest was accused of misconduct with boys while working at a Haitian orphanage; Demers was later brought back to work in the diocese.[13] He testified in a 1990 lawsuit that he did not take allegations against another priest, Rev. William O'Connell, seriously.[13] O'Connell was later convicted and served a short sentence before moving to New Jersey, where he committed more crimes and died in prison.[13]

During his tenure in Burlington, records show Angell allowed six accused priests to remain in active ministry within Vermont.[13] He refused to identify them publicly, but then gave their names to the State Attorney General and placed them under suspension.[13] At a news conference in March 2005, Angell described the sexual abuse scandals as the most difficult challenge he faced during his time as bishop.[14] He said, "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. 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."[14]


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