Pope Francis has named a new bishop to serve alongside, and eventually replace, Bishop Thomas Tobin as leader of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence.

The Pope appointed the Most Reverend Richard Henning as Coadjutor Bishop of Providence, the Vatican announced Wednesday, and accepted the resignation of the Most Reverend Robert Evans, who served as Auxiliary Bishop of Providence.

Tobin currently leads the Providence Diocese and is required to submit his resignation when he turns 75 early next year.

Henning is expected to succeed Tobin whenever he leaves his post. Under Catholic canon, coadjutor bishops immediately assume the role of bishop when a bishop leaves, resigns or dies. Tobin says he hopes the diocese will make that transition in the spring.

“Bishop Henning is fully prepared to assume the leadership of the Diocese of Providence when that time comes,” Tobin said at a press conference on Wednesday. “And I pray and I hope that that will happen in the very near future.”

Tobin was installed as Bishop of Providence in 2005. He has been an outspoken champion of conservative religious views, voicing his opposition to same-sex marriage and even criticizing Pope Francis in a diocese publication for not being stridently anti-abortion.

When Henning was asked at his introductory press conference how his pastoral beliefs aligned with the Pope’s, Henning said “entirely.”

“Forgive me if I read between the lines, but you're asking me, ‘Do I, in any way sort-of dissent from him?’ And the answer is, when it comes to Catholic teaching: No, I do not.”

Henning has served as an auxiliary bishop in the Diocese of Rockville Centre on Long Island since 2018, according to his church biography. That diocese filed for bankruptcy in 2020 after facing more than 200 lawsuits over sexual abuse allegations.

“It’s certainly been a long and difficult process going through that,” Henning said. “For the Diocese of Rockville Centre the decision to enter into Chapter 11 was driven by the desire to first be able to have the resources to address survivors, but also to be able to continue the mission of the church in the circumstances in which the diocese found itself.”

Many of the abuse claims predate Henning’s service as an auxiliary bishop in the diocese.

A Long Island native, Bishop Henning was ordained in 1992.

This developing story has been updated with additional reporting.