Time magazine has named Pope Francis “Person of the Year” for 2013. Time, the world’s largest weekly news magazine with a readership of 25 million, recognized the head of the Catholic Church for his humility and global leadership.
“In his nine months in office, he has placed himself at the very center of the central conversations of our time: about wealth and poverty, fairness and justice, transparency, modernity, globalization, the role of women, the nature of marriage, the temptations of power,” Time’s managing editor, Nancy Gibbs, wrote in an article explaining their decision.
In a very short time “a vast, global, ecumenical audience has shown a hunger to follow him,” she continued, “for pulling the papacy out of the palace and into the streets, for committing the world’s largest church to confronting its deepest needs and for balancing judgment with mercy.”
In a statement issued Dec. 11 Vatican spokesman Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi said the designation was “unsurprising, considering the resonance and very widespread attention given to the election of Pope Francis and the beginning of his pontificate.”
The 76-year-old Jesuit pontiff, selected pope March 13 of this year, had previously served as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina since 1998.
“It’s a positive sign that one of the most prestigious recognitions in the international press” goes to a person who “proclaims to the world spiritual, religious and moral values and speaks effectively in favor of peace and greater justice,” Father Lombardi said.
Past popes named Time Person of the Year were Blessed John Paul II in 1994 and Blessed John XXIII in 1962.
The pope “does not seek fame and success, because he serves to proclaim the Gospel and God’s love for everyone,” Father Lombardi wrote. But if the recognition “attracts women and men and gives them hope, the pope is happy.”