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Since his selection, there’s been intense interest in Pope Francis’s leadership, among Catholics and non-Catholics.  And that interest is growing, as he now heads to the U.S. with a packed schedule that includes an unprecedented Congressional address….and a tendency to tackle politically charged issues, from capitalism to climate change.  


Last March, the election of Pope Francis was announced with a billow of white smoke. Nine months later, the media remain in a papal haze.  Time Magazine named Pope Francis its person of the year. Francis also topped Esquire's list of 2013's best-dressed men, and Buzzfeed jumped on the papal bandwagon with its list of "The 19 Best Pope Francis Moments of 2013".

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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.

Jonathan Lynch / NHPR

Catholics held a special mass in Manchester Wednesday night to celebrate the selection of the new pope.

Parishioners gathered on short notice at St. Joseph’s Cathedral Wednesday night to commemorate the anointing of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis I.

Bishop Peter Labasci was on hand to lead the mass. He asked those in attendance to welcome the new pope and to pray for his success in leading the church.

Labasci said the selection of the Argentine came as a surprise to him:

AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko, file

The Diocese of Manchester will hold a special mass at 6 this evening to celebrate the election of a new pope.

Bishop Peter Libasci will lead the mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Manchester.

Diocese Spokesman Kevin Donovan says the announcement of a new pope comes very early, compared to previous elections.

“The earliest that a pope has been elected in 100s of years was on the first day, and this is the second day, so still fairly early, which means there was consensus early on among the electors, the cardinals, electing the pope.”

Catholic cardinals from around the world are meeting now, as the process of choosing a new leader gets underway at a time of tremendous upheaval for their church. We’ll find out what religious leaders and others in the Granite state are saying about this and what they think it means for the future.


This week is Catholic Schools Week. For students in New Hampshire Catholic schools, that means some unusual classroom activities, from food drives to snowman making festivals.

For faculty, though, it’s a chance to reflect on the state of the school district – and some of the challenges it faces, from enrollment issues to school safety to teaching Catholic positions on social issues that may no longer be held by the majority of Americans.

Diocese of Manchester, NH

We sit down with Bishop Peter Libasci, nearly one year after he took over as head of the Diocese of Manchester. We’ll talk with Bishop Libasci about what he hopes to achieve as leader of more than a quarter million New Hampshire Catholics.

Nearly a thousand people packed into St Joseph's Cathedral to witness the installation of Peter Libasci as Manchester's tenth bishop.

Originally from Long Island, New York, Libasci was appointed to the position by Pope Benedict XVI in September of this year.

In his first address to the congregation, the newly instated Bishop thanked those in attendance, as well as other members of the church who were watching via television: