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Pope Francis is Time’s Person of the Year

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From page A12 | December 12, 2013 | 6 Comments

NEW YORK — Time magazine selected Pope Francis as its Person of the Year on Wednesday, saying the Catholic Church’s new leader has changed the perception of the 2,000-year-old institution in an extraordinary way in a short time.

The pope beat out NSA leaker Edward Snowden for the distinction, which the newsmagazine has been giving each year since 1927.

The former Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected in March as the first pope from Latin America and the first Jesuit. Since taking over at the Vatican, he has urged the Catholic Church not to be obsessed with “small-minded rules” and to emphasize compassion over condemnation in dealing with touchy topics like abortion, gays and contraception.

He has denounced the world’s “idolatry of money” and the “global scandal” that nearly 1 billion people today go hungry, and has charmed the masses with his simple style and wry sense of humor. His appearances draw tens of thousands of people and his @Pontifex Twitter account recently topped 10 million followers.

“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,” said Nancy Gibbs, the magazine’s managing editor.

The Vatican said the honor wasn’t surprising given the resonance in the general public that Francis has had, but it nevertheless said the choice was a “positive” recognition of spiritual values in the international media.

“The Holy Father is not looking to become famous or to receive honors,” said the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi. “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.”

It was the third time a Catholic pope had been Time’s selection. John Paul II was selected in 1994 and John XXIII was chosen in 1962.

In Argentina on Wednesday, Padre Toto, one of the many “slum priests” the pope supported for years as archbishop of Buenos Aires, praised Time magazine’s selection.

“I think the recognition of Time magazine is good news, because Pope Francis embodies one of the values of a church that’s more missionary, closer to the people, more austere, more in keeping with the gospel,” Toto said. “He had the genius of knowing how to express this sense of the church and hopefully his way of being will catch on with other political leaders, business executives, sports figures. His leadership is inspiring.”

Besides Snowden, Time had narrowed its finalists down to gay rights activist Edith Windsor, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Syrian President Bashar Assad.

President Barack Obama was Time’s selection for 2012.

Time editors make the selection. The magazine polled readers for their choice, and the winner was Egyptian General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who didn’t even make the top 10 of Time’s final list.

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The Associated Press

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Discussion | 6 comments

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  • CD BrooksDecember 12, 2013 - 7:26 am

    I believe they made the right choice here. No because I agree with anything religion, but because dude is trying to effect positive change in the church. That is long over due and although still a little short of what needs doing (allowing priests to marry and women in the clergy), he's on the right track.

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  • rlw895December 12, 2013 - 7:38 am

    They couldn't pick Snowden over the Pope, though Snowden had more effect on world affairs. Like Obama's selection for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, this selection is optimistic and hopeful than based on actual fact. Picking Snowden over the Pope would have set all that aside and merely reminded us of what a crappy world we live in sometimes.

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  • CD BrooksDecember 12, 2013 - 7:54 am

    Good morning rlw895! My wife and I had this discussion and I figured it would come down to Snowden and the Pope with the Pope getting the nod. I cannot disagree with your assertion. I would not have been disappointed however, if Snowden was recognized and possibly brought back as a hero for the many thousands that stand with him. Dude is living a difficult life now and maybe when the truth surfaces, he can be made whole again? I’m certain we don’t have all the facts (we rarely do), but this might be the case that proves us all (supporters) wrong.

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  • CD BrooksDecember 12, 2013 - 8:17 am

    Oops, that would be supporters correct.

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  • ?December 12, 2013 - 8:34 am

    Si tu n'y arrives pas, laisse tomber

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  • Rich GiddensDecember 12, 2013 - 11:36 am

    The Patriot Snowden has only leaked less then 1% of what he has. Give it time to rot and putrify some more. And the Pope? I believe Black Sabbath's lyrics to "After Forever'' addresses him succinctly. Francis is the communist pope and John Paul II wouldn't approve having lived under Communism in Poland.

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