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Pope accepts resignation of auxiliary bishop of New Hampshire diocese


Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Auxiliary Bishop Francis J. Christian of Manchester, N.H., who is pictured in a 2004 photo. He is 75, the age at which canon requires bishops to turn in their resignation to the pope. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Auxiliary Bishop Francis J. Christian of Manchester, New Hampshire.

The bishop, who is vicar general and vicar for priest personnel, is 75, the age at canon law requires bishops to turn in their resignation to the pope.

His resignation was announced in Washington Feb. 1 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

St. John Paul II appointed then-Msgr. Christian as auxiliary bishop for the statewide Manchester Diocese April 2, 1996, and he was ordained a bishop May 14, 1996, at St. Joseph Cathedral by Bishop Leo E. O'Neil, then head of the diocese.

At the time of his episcopal appointment he had been chancellor of the Manchester Diocese since 1977 and secretary of administrative/canonical affairs since 1986.

Born Oct. 8, 1942, in Peterborough, New Hampshire, Francis Joseph Christian studied at St. Anselm College in Manchester for two years, before entering the seminary in 1962.

He studied at St. Paul Seminary in Ottawa, Ontario, from 1962 to 1964. He completed his undergraduate study with a bachelor of arts degree and a bachelor of philosophy degree from the University of Ottawa, in 1964. He studied at the American College at the University of Louvain in Belgium from 1964 to 1968, earning a master's degree in theology in 1968.

He was ordained a priest for Manchester by Bishop Ernest J. Primeau, sixth bishop of the diocese, at St. Patrick Parish in Jaffrey, New Hampshire, on June 29, 1968.

He served three years at Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Merrimack, New Hampshire, and a year at St. Joseph Cathedral in Manchester, both as parochial vicar, before returning to Louvain in 1973 for doctoral work in moral theology. He completed a doctorate, summa cum laude, in religious studies with a specialization in moral theology in February 1975.

Upon his return to the diocese he was appointed vice chancellor in 1975. He was named a monsignor by St. John Paul in 1986.

The statewide Diocese of Manchester covers just over, 9,300 square miles. Out of a total population of 1.33 million, about 255,000, or 19 percent, are Catholic.

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