What you might call the responsibility of being a bishop, Salvatore Matano calls a burden.
“I make decisions that affect the lives of other people, that’s not something I glory in,” Matano said in a rare one-on-one interview with News 8.
But he does glory in the Catholic Church, a place that captured his interest at a young age.
“How the church was able to blend this earthly life with view towards living with God forever in eternity,” he said.
Matano was born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island and prior to coming to Rochester served as bishop in Burlington, Vermont.
He arrived in Rochester a little more than 3 years ago.
“The people are very welcoming, extremely kind and it’s very humbling,” he said.
Matano’s approach to scripture differs noticeably from that of his predecessor, Matthew Clark, who served as bishop of the Rochester Diocese for 33 years.
Many parishioners say the transition boils down to a conservative replacing a liberal.
“Bishops have different approaches, but I think Bishop Clark and I have taken to heart the model of the first bishop of our diocese and the motto he took was, “The supreme law is the salvation of souls,’” Matano said.
When asked whether he thinks the Catholic Church might ever allow gay marriage, he said, “We should be able to teach as the Holy Father does. Pope Francis, certainly has not given any indication of any change that can come about as far as what the Lord has given to us as it comes to sacrament of marriage, yet kindness, understanding, is in the fabric of who we are as human beings called to love God and love our neighbor.”
Matano also addressed the issue of sanctuary cities and immigration.
“I pray we can come to a resolution as do all my fellow brother bishops, that we can finally come to a resolution that does not cause those who come here to constantly live in fear of what their future might be,” Matano said.
Matano recently sent out what’s called a pastoral letter to his parishioners in preparation for the 150th anniversary of the Rochester Diocese.
In the letter, Matano stresses the importance of coming to church for Communion.
“I really feel like we need to have this personal connection to the Lord,” he said about the letter. “Pope Francis has spoken beautifully about accompanying people, personally being present to people, no one is more present to us than Jesus in the Eucharist. We believe that the Eucharist is the body, blood and soul of Jesus Christ.”
As he magnifies this message this fall, Matano will reach 46 years as an ordained minister.
That’s almost a half a century of burdens and blessings.