Pope Benedict the 16th stunned the Catholic world in February by announcing his retirement: the first papal resignation in 700 years. And since the election of Pope Francis in March, the surprises have only continued: he’s the first Latin American pope, the first Jesuit, the first pope from the southern hemisphere. And some observers say this “outsider” status leads Francis to speak outside the norm: while previous popes led the fight against abortion, gay marriage, and contraception, Pope Francis has called these "obsessions", urging a renewal of the church's mission to serve the poor and the oppressed. Some Catholics have been concerned about this, questioning his commitment to traditional doctrine, while others applaud his embrace of what they see as the true roots of the Catholic faith.
- Michele Dillon – sociology professor at UNH. Her research interests include American Catholics, and she co-authored a book this year called 'American Catholics in Transition.'
- David Gibson – national reporter for Religion News Service covering the Catholic church. He has written two books on Catholic topics, recently a biography of Pope Benedict XVI.
- Bishop Peter Libasci – tenth bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester, which covers the entire state of New Hampshire. He has been in that post for two years.
- Poll: Catholics agree with Pope Francis that church is 'obsessed' with moral issues
- Pew: 6 months into papacy, Catholics express favorable view of Pope Francis
- Pope's 'apostolic exhortation': an inclusive church, reaching out ‘on the streets’
- Pew: no clear ‘Pope Francis effect’ among U.S. Catholics