Time magazine selected Pope Francis as the 2013 Person of the Year on Wednesday, Dec 11. His leadership of the Catholic Church has drastically changed perceptions about the church in a short space of time. He was chosen over NSA leaker Edward Snowden, who took the second place spot and gay rights activist Edith Windsor, who followed in third place.
Time’s Managing Editor Nancy Gibbs explained the decision, “He really stood out to us as someone who has changed the tone and the perception and the focus of one of the world’s largest institutions in an extraordinary way.”
Pope Francis was elected in March and in the few months since then he has urged the Catholic community not to focus on “small-minded rules” and emphasized understanding over condemnation when discussing controversial subjects, such as abortion, gays and contraception. Pope Francis, who took the name of the 13th century patron saint of the poor, recently denounced the “idolatry of money” in his first official publication as a pope.
He is the first Pope to include women in the washing of the feet ceremony before Easter.
Pope Francis is encouraging others in the Vatican to follow suit. He chose the 50 year old Polish Archbishop Konrad Krajewski as the Vatican Almoner, who hands out small amounts to the needy. Pope Francis told him to sell his desk.
“You don’t need it. You need to get out of the Vatican. Don’t wait for people to come ringing. You need to go out and look for the poor.” Krajewski recently handed out 1,600 phone cards to immigrant survivors of a capsized boat so they could call family back in Eritrea.
Vatican spokesperson Rev. Federico Lombardi said about Time’s award, “The Holy Father is not looking to become famous or to receive honors, but if the choice of Person of Year helps spread the message of the Gospel – a message of God’s love for everyone – he will certainly be happy about that.”
This is the third time a pope has been Person of the year since the magazine started giving the award in 1927. John Paul II was chosen in 1994 and John XXIII was chosen in 1962.
Here's the CNN report on Pope Francis the TIME Person of the Year 2013: