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wholesale sunglasses A year ago, Pope Benedict resigned: Catholics are happy with new Pope Francis, bishop saysPope Francis was elected last year after the abrupt and unexpected resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. (AP)BIRMINGHAM, Alabama - Bishop Robert J. Baker, head of the Catholic Diocese of Birmingham, was shocked a year ago today when Pope Benedict XVI abruptly resigned, the first pope to resign in 600 years. But he couldn't be more excited about how smooth the transition to a new pope, Pope Francis,has been. "We're delighted with the new pope," Baker said. "We're happy with the reception he's received from Catholics and non-Catholics." Baker has asked his priests and diocesan staff to read Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation, "The Joy of the Gospel," in which the pope urges Catholics to serve the poor. Baker and his predecessor, retired Bishop David Foley, did a retreat studying the document. "We found it electrifying," Baker said. "There's a strong section emphasizing the need for the church to reach out to the poor. I think that's going to be a hallmark of his papacy. We are to not only serve the poor, but learn from the poor." For the Diocese of Birmingham, that means continuing the ministry of Catholic schools in underprivileged areas. "Maintaining schools is a real challenge," Baker said. "We really want to encourage and support their efforts. We need help to carry on a mission to serve the poor. We believe education is an important part of that. What helps eliminate poverty is education." Baker celebrated Mass with Pope Francis while in Rome last July and was impressed with his positive demeanor. "This pope is setting the right tone for us Catholics to continue helping the poor," Baker said.