Pope Francis, The Choice

With a focus on compassion, the leader of the Catholic Church has become a new voice of conscience. Managing Editor Nancy Gibbs explains why Francis is TIME's choice for Person of the Year 2013

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To read about TIME’s choice in Spanish and Portuguese, click below.
EL ELEGIDO: El Papa Francisco es la Persona del Año 2013 de TIME
A Escolha: O Papa Francisco é a Personalidade do Ano eleita pela Time em 2013

Once there was a boy so meek and modest, he was awarded a Most Humble badge. The next day, it was taken away because he wore it. Here endeth the lesson.

How do you practice humility from the most exalted throne on earth? Rarely has a new player on the world stage captured so much attention so quickly—young and old, faithful and cynical—as has Pope Francis. 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.

At a time when the limits of leadership are being tested in so many places, along comes a man with no army or weapons, no kingdom beyond a tight fist of land in the middle of Rome but with the immense wealth and weight of history behind him, to throw down a challenge. The world is getting smaller; individual voices are getting louder; technology is turning virtue viral, so his pulpit is visible to the ends of the earth. When he kisses the face of a disfigured man or washes the feet of a Muslim woman, the image resonates far beyond the boundaries of the Catholic Church.

(PERSON OF THE YEAR: Pope Francis, The People’s Pope)

The skeptics will point to the obstacles Francis faces in accomplishing much of anything beyond making casual believers feel better about the softer tone coming out of Rome while feeling free to ignore the harder substance. The Catholic Church is one of the oldest, largest and richest institutions on earth, with a following 1.2 billion strong, and change does not come naturally. At its best it inspires and instructs, helps and heals and calls the faithful to heed their better angels. But it has been weakened worldwide by scandal, corruption, a shortage of priests and a challenge, especially across the fertile mission fields of the southern hemisphere, from evangelical and Pentecostal rivals. In some quarters, core teachings on divorce and contraception are widely ignored and orthodoxy derided as obsolete. Vatican bureaucrats and clergy stand accused of infighting, graft, blackmail and an obsession with “small-minded rules,” as Francis puts it, rather than the vast possibilities of grace. Don’t just preach; listen, he says. Don’t scold; heal.

And yet in less than a year, he has done something remarkable: he has not changed the words, but he’s changed the music. Tone and temperament matter in a church built on the substance of symbols—bread and wine, body and blood—so it is a mistake to dismiss any Pope’s symbolic choices­ as gestures empty of the force of law. He released his first exhortation, an attack on “the idolatry of money,” just as Americans were contemplating the day set aside for gratitude and whether to spend it at the mall. This is a man with a sense of timing. He lives not in the papal palace surrounded by courtiers but in a spare hostel surrounded by priests. He prays all the time, even while waiting for the dentist. He has retired the papal Mercedes in favor of a scuffed-up Ford Focus. No red shoes, no gilded cross, just an iron one around his neck. When he rejects the pomp and the privilege, releases information on Vatican finances for the first time, reprimands a profligate German Archbishop, cold-calls strangers in distress, offers to baptize the baby of a divorced woman whose married lover wanted her to abort it, he is doing more than modeling mercy and ­transparency. He is ­embracing complexity and acknowledging the risk that a church obsessed with its own rights and righteousness could inflict more wounds than it heals. Asked why he seems uninterested in waging a culture war, he refers to the battlefield. The church is a field hospital, he says. Our first duty is to tend to the wounded. You don’t ask a bleeding man about his cholesterol level.

(MORE: Everything You Wanted to Know about TIME’s Person of the Year)

This focus on compassion, along with a general aura of merriment not always associated with princes of the church, has made Francis something of a rock star. More than 3 million people turned out to see him on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro last summer, the crowds in St. Peter’s Square are ecstatic, and the souvenirs are selling fast. Francesco is the most popular male baby name in Italy. Churches report a “Francis effect” of lapsed Catholics returning to Mass and confession, though anecdotes are no substitute for hard evidence, and surveys of U.S. Catholics, at least, see little change in practice thus far. But the fascination with Francis even outside his flock gives him an opportunity that his predecessor, Benedict XVI, never had—to magnify the message of the church and its power to do great good.

The giddy embrace of the secular press makes Francis suspect among traditionalists who fear he buys popularity at the price of a watered-down faith. He has deftly leveraged the media’s fascination to draw attention to everything from his prayers for peace in Syria to his pointed attack on trickle-down economics, which inspired Jesse Jackson to compare him to Martin Luther King Jr. and Rush Limbaugh to wonder whether he’s a Marxist. When you are a media celebrity, every word you speak is dissected, as are those you choose not to speak. Why has he not said more about the priest sex-abuse scandal? ask victims’ advocates. (Just this month, he set up a commission to address the abuse of children by priests.) Why does he not talk more about the sanctity of life? ask conservatives, who note that in his exhortation, abortion is mentioned once, mercy 32 times. Francis both affirms traditional teachings on sexuality and warns that the church has become distracted by them. He attacks priests who won’t baptize children born out of wedlock for their “rigorous and hypocritical neo-clericalism.” He declares that God “has redeemed all of us … not just Catholics. Everyone, even atheists.” He posed with environmental activists holding an antifracking T-shirt and called on politicians and business leaders to be “protectors of creation.”

(MORE: Behind the Pope Francis Cover)

None of which makes him a liberal—he also says the all-male priesthood is not subject to debate, nor is abortion, nor is the definition of marriage. But his focus on the poor and the fact that the world’s poorest 50% control barely 1% of its wealth unsettles those who defend capitalism as the most successful antipoverty program in history. You could argue that he is Teddy Roosevelt protecting capitalism from its own excesses or he is simply saying what Popes before him have said, that Jesus calls us to care for the least among us—only he’s saying it in a way that people seem to be hearing differently. And that may be especially important coming from the first Pope from the New World. A century ago, two-thirds of Catholics lived in Europe; now fewer than a quarter do, and how he is heard in countries where being gay is a crime and educating women for leadership roles is a heresy may have the power to transform cultures in which Catholicism is a growing, even potentially liberating force.

These days it is bracing to hear a leader say anything that annoys anyone. Now liberals and conservatives alike face a choice as they listen to a new voice of conscience: Which matters more, that this charismatic leader is saying things they think need to be said or that he is also saying things they’d rather not hear?

The heart is a strong muscle; he’s proposing a rigorous exercise plan. And in a very short time, a vast, global, ecumenical audience has shown a hunger to follow him. 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, Pope Francis is TIME’s 2013 Person of the Year.

863 comments
losik34
losik34

 Господи спаси и сохрани. Во имя Отца, и Сына, и Святаго Духа. Аминь. .


RominaBeraldo
RominaBeraldo

I come from Francis's country and we are not surprised that he is the man of the year, because while he was the cardenal of Buenos Aires, my city, he was a very honorable and mainly he said the words face to face specially to our politician, that is why they never attemtp to any of his celebrations in the Catedral Metropolitana of Buenos Aires. I can say he is a real and extremely excelent person. He deserves this prize and more also. Cheers for him and let's pray for him as he said when he was choosen to be the head of the catholic church. For him I feel very proud of being Argentinian.

God bless Francis

AbrahamYeshuratnam
AbrahamYeshuratnam

There is nothing to be ashamed of being a Marxist, for Marx got his ideas from Jesus. Jesus attacked priests, capitalists and corrupt rulers in all his speeches. Marx probably would have got ideas for revolutionary socialism from the bold act of Jesus in driving out black marketeers and big business from the Temple premises. The Bible says that Jesus entered into the temple of God, and drove out all of those who sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the money changers' tables and the seats of those who sold the doves. If Jesus came now into many parts of his visible church, how many secret evils he would discover and cleanse! And how many things daily practiced under the cloak of religion, would he show to be more suitable to a den of thieves than to a house of prayer! In Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov, a bishop wants to arrest Jesus for interfering in his nefarious activities. Pope Francis should boldly put into action Christian Marxism. If he fails, Jesus wouldn't recognize him at the time of Last Judgment.

sdahousing
sdahousing

He's the ANTI-CHRIST of Revelation 13.  Beware...

sdahousing
sdahousing

He's the ANTI-CHRIST of Revelation 13. Be ware...


MontereyCA
MontereyCA

Uphold the examples that The Pope sets: love and humility of your brothers and sisters.  He brings positivity  to the world, a diminishing characteristic. This is the most followed person in the word. I am proud of his courage and lead-by-action and compassionate attitude. The world needs to calm down a bit, and he's making it happen. Thank you Pope Francis.

(Non-catholic here. Believer in God. Questions the Bible.)

za8bit
za8bit

I thought the person of the year was meant to be someone who has had the most influence on the world in the year. I haven't heard of anything that this Pope has done the whole damn year, he's a nobody. What happened to Snowden? That's the one person that has actually DONE ANYTHING to CHANGE the world this year. WTF Time???

KrzysztofCiuba
KrzysztofCiuba

"He prays all the time, even while waiting for the dentist." The author suggest all previous popes did not pray? Also all other Catholics do not pray? What a journlist's junk!

"The substance of symbols-bread, wine...body, blood".Ho,ho.... A fool is writing on the words at Last Supper; Bible commentaries are available at any Library! "Substance", "Symbol"+ English meaning of Greek "body" as "soma" and "flesh" as "sarx". Too much for ...West Inteligentia?


KrzysztofCiuba
KrzysztofCiuba

Excellent, Devils is happy for sure in the light of Matthew 5:37absolute divine Aristotle's priniciple of non contradiction on All Francis's words and deeds

KyleRounds
KyleRounds

SELLOUTS! But I expected nothing less.

sashwathi
sashwathi

What is the piano song for the pope?

steveedee
steveedee

The Pope?  The person of the year was Vladimir Putin.  Just add Time Mag to the long list of those snookered by Putin in 2013.

AmalRachidi
AmalRachidi


Dictator El-Sissi

General Sisi “kills his own family”

Note: this has not been independently corroborated. It is not known for certain if this man is a relative of Mr. Sissi or if he was killed.

General Fatteh al-Sisi was denounced by a member of his own family after the death of another relative in the massacre at Rabaa al-Adawiya. Hazem Lutfi Abdel Aziz Abdel Rahman al-Sisi who appears in the video denounces General Sisi following the death of his brother, Khalid Lutfi al-Sisi. Khalid, a 46 year-old engineer, was killed during the army and security forces raid on the anti-coup sit-ins at Adawiya on Wednesday.

Hazem said that he disowned General Sisi as a member of his family and called him a “traitor” and a “killer”. He went on to say that he was sure that General Sisi would be punished for his actions, even if justice was a long time coming, as well as the Minister of Interior, Mohammed Ibrahim. He concluded by saying that he prays Allah, the supremely high, grants everyone patience and insisted that Egyptians would not be silent in the fight for their rights.

DeanJackson
DeanJackson

The Vatican was co-opted by Moscow and allies in 1958 with the "election" of Pope John XXIII. When the inexplicable "resignation" of Pope Benedict occurred last February, many were shocked, realizing I had indeed hit on the truth. Then several months after his "resignation, Pope Emeritus Benedict admitted the real reason he "resigned"--God told him too! It wasn't God, but Moscow, because the stench of Benedict's pedophilia was too strong, Moscow now needed a kinder, gentler man in the Vatican--Pope Francis (Moscow's intention isn't to destroy the Catholic Church, merely to weaken and control it). 


How did I pinpoint the date of the Moscow usurpation of the Vatican, you ask? Simple, because in 1960 the Vatican refused to releases the so-called Third Secret of Fatima, 1960 being the year the "secret" was to be released by. Imaging that? The Vatican refusing an order from God! You don't have to be a Christian (or a believer in God) to know that Believers would never disobey the order of God!


Also, it was in the early 1960s that the Vatican inexplicably changed its policy towards priests caught molesting Catholic children. The old policy was to remove the offending priest from the unsupervised company of children, a move consistent with Christian values, since (1) the Vatican knew what would happen to such priests if sent to prison; and (2) it stopped in its tracks any further abuse of Catholic children by the offending priest. But in the early 1960s the Vatican's policy inexplicably changed to passing the offending priest to unsuspecting parishes, where the molestation of Catholic children could continue, hugely increasing the number of Catholic children abused. The policy shift also had the side effect of encouraging pedophiles to join the seminaries in order to get some of the action their pedophile priest-friends told them about.


You see, if Believers were in control of the Vatican, naturally such a policy shift would never have taken place, since Believers would know that God would have a special punishment for them in the next life. Never thought about that, huh?


We also have the incident where in 1998 Pope John Paul II tried to palm off on the Swiss Guard a KGB agent for the position of Commander. Several hours after Alois Estermann is promoted to commander of the Swiss Guard by Pope John Paul II, Estermann and his wife (along with another Swiss Guard) are found dead in their Vatican apartment. Days later the European press reports that Estermann had been a KGB agent since 1979.


For those of you wondering how could the Moscow network in the Vatican still be operational, since the USSR "collapsed" in 1991, take a look at these…


Google: 'Krasnaya Zvezda'


“Krasnaya Zvezda” is Russian (no kidding!) for "Red Star", the official newspaper of Soviet and later Russian Ministry of Defense. The paper's official designation is, "Central Organ of the Russian Ministry of Defense." Note the four Soviet emblems next to the still existing Soviet era masthead, one of which pictures Lenin's head! Those Soviet emblems and Lenin's head can't still be next to the masthead of the Russian Ministry of Defense's newspaper due to their association with the Soviet Union and its ideals of world revolution; the nations of the world constituting the Soviet Union!


In addition, the KGB agent Quislings that controlled the Russian Orthodox Church before the “collapse” of the USSR are to this day still in control. They were never identified and thrown out of that institution after the “collapse” of the USSR. The same is true for all other religious institutions in the other 14 republics of the USSR, including East Bloc nations, proving not only co-option of those religious institutions, but that the "collapses" of the East Bloc and USSR were disinformation operations:


Google: ‘Eleven out of 15 members of Bulgarian Orthodox Church's Holy Synod worked for communist State Security’




CharlieJenkins
CharlieJenkins

Pope will be celebrating his new found fame by inviting a couple of young boys overnight to his penthouse.

CLMARKS
CLMARKS

2 Corinthians 5:17 ............. " The old has gone, the new has come " .

 Let's  hope that the new gets better as we go.



 

BadReligion
BadReligion

He has generated good PR for the Catholic church without changing any of the regressive dogma.  As noted at the end of the article, the Catholic church still opposes female priests, contraception in the poverty-stricken third world, marriage equality, right of gays to adopt, etc.   

AbdallahNegm
AbdallahNegm

Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the defense minister, had won first place in a poll of readers of the magazine, and defeated the American pop singer, Miley Cyrus, and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan »

It is a breach of the rules of democracy, led by the U.S. administration

Washington and the U.S. media are conspiring against Egypt unspoken

MonoscalcoFranco
MonoscalcoFranco

he deserved the covering of your magazine tha i read quite often. Pope Francesco i very humble and generously towards the poor people . I hope he can reach all his aimes to have peace in the world. Franco Monoscalco

HMOORE123
HMOORE123

As a Catholic who works to stop animal suffering, I think Pope Francis—who chose his papal title in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals—is an excellent choice. He  can inspire everyone to make more compassionate choices--he's already encouraged his followers to respect each of God's creatures and the environment in which we live.

ChandraPanchabhikesan
ChandraPanchabhikesan

The TIME man of then year award was an excellent choice A man of exceptonal humilty has been chosen  The others who were talked about did not measure up to the distinguished prize.

JosephMauk
JosephMauk

Congratulations TIME! You all couldn't have made a better choice! Don't listen to the negative comments on here its just the works of the evil one to try and make you feel bad for the right choice! Keep up the GOOD work!

BrianWills
BrianWills

Don't normally come here but had to come to say what a poor choice you have made. Won't be here again!

freereel
freereel

The extent to which "journalists" like Radika Jones are just mouthpieces for the Federal Government is astounding. 


Her talking points might as well have been written by the White House.  


By any reasonable standard, Edward Snowden broke news of a scandal.  The Federal Government is actively spying on its own citizens, collecting information in bulk without reasonable suspicion of any crime, violating the fourth amendment of the Bill of Rights, etc.  But in this journalist's comments, she does not even HINT that the NSA may be breaking the law, violating the Constitution, or doing anything in ANY WAY bad. 


She ignores this FACT:  "Pressed by the Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at an oversight hearing, Gen. Keith B. Alexander admitted that the number of terrorist plots foiled by the NSA’s huge database of every phone call made in or to America was only one or perhaps two — far smaller than the 54 originally claimed by the administration."  She instead sticks with the administration line and asserts that the NSA is keeping us safe, and doing nothing else. 


Here's her quote:  "...Surveillance by the NSA and in general digital surveillance and how the security that we get from that intersects with personal privacy.  That was a huge story."  Note, she doesn't say security CONFLICTS in any way with personal privacy, only that it's interesting how it "INTERSECTS" with personal privacy.  And she asserts unquestioningly that we GET security from the NSA.  This is not journalism, this is SHILLING--working hard to SELL the government position that the NSA activity is all just and "for our own good." 


Similarly, the Syria segment is like a White House Press Release.  The White House claimed that they "know" Assad used the chemical weapons, but that has already been called into question.  Does she even read the news?  "Senior US intelligence officials say they are not convinced that the Aug. 21 chemical attack was carried out by the Assad government."  "A dozen former US military and intelligence officials have informed President Barack Obama in a letter that the charge against the Syrian government is based on false intelligence."  "The rebels have Sarin gas."  "Obama Administration cherry-picked intelligence."  Does she even READ the NEWS?  Or just she just base her "journalistic" opinions on White House spin? 


Here's what she said:  "This summer saw the alleged use by the Assad regime of the use of chemical weapons to kill not only adults but also about 400 children, something that really touched the world and suggested to President Obama among others that America and other countries should intervene.  That didn't happen, he's still there, still exercising a lot of power, and still flummoxing leaders in the West in terms of how to effect any change in that regime."  Our government was eager for more "regime change" based on false intelligence, and this "journalist" is frustrated that it didn't happen! 


Pathetic!  She should just go work in a government PR department!


Time Magazine, how can you be surprised by your increasing irrelevance?  You have brought it on yourself.  You are obviously much more interested in towing the line and conducting PR for the government than in investigating and informing your readers. 


HenryT2
HenryT2

I'm an Atheist. But I second this choice. I'm not against religion. I'm against religion being a hindrance to doing the good that they claim to aspire to. But when a person is put in a position of this kind of awesome power and then "puts his money where his mouth is" I admire that no matter what his beliefs about the mysteries of the universe.


If he cleans house of the pedophiles and protectors of the pedophiles, I'll accept him as a saint myself because that would be a genuine miracle (double miracle since 2 are needed).

kestrel27
kestrel27

You gotta love Time, staffed by puke Progressives who hate the Catholic Church and Christians in general putting the Pope as man of the year. Why? Because of his comments against Capitalism. Trust me, the only gods Progressives believe in, are themselves.

OutrightConjob
OutrightConjob

And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.

THE Lateran Treaty   OF 1929 SAYS IT ALL.

AND I AIN'T NO BIBLE THUMPER. THIS IS THE 8TH KING.

AND JESUIT TO BOOT. A BLACK POPE.

JazzMan
JazzMan

The head of the pedophile catholic priesthood is Time's person of the year. Wonderful. 

richcross
richcross

@za8bit  

Here is a couple reasons. He oversees the worlds largest charitable organization helping the poor and sick at every corner of the earth. He always points to Jesus and would tell you that he, Francis is just an unworthy servant. He goes to Confession regularly in order to have the strength to continue on the right path. He prays for you daily.

richcross
richcross

@KrzysztofCiuba You are called to love others as God loves each one of us. This is our faith. You are loved. And yes there is evil in this world. Its good to know who pulls your own strings. If you ponder in sincerity you will get the right answers. Pope Francis is a good man. Think about another good man that was crucified for you. It is you and I that helped in His Crucifixion. Being Catholic I know even at that I am very much loved. Jesus is the one pulling my strings. You are loved

richcross
richcross

@CharlieJenkins 

If you knew where you got this, you would run as fast as you can to Christ. Inspite of your remarks you are very much loved

www.utahmission.com

AliAbdallah
AliAbdallah

habiby     thanks for your words     your brother ali

Min
Min

@AbdallahNegm I'm not sure if you realize this, but Time is not run by the US government and is not a democracy.

MonoscalcoFranco
MonoscalcoFranco

@freereel i disagree with you because the inleiigence is necessary to avoid terrorist attack. I am an italian and surely  my conversation where recorded but i don't mind too much about my privacy because i have nothing to hide.

richcross
richcross

@HenryT2 You are awsome!!! Nice to have you in the world with your common sense. Keep being exactly who you are!

Rich 

www.utahmission.com

richcross
richcross

@JazzMan So, we have so many divorces. That must mean that all marriege is bad right? You are what is termed a block head. You need to realize this in order to grow up. In Christ. 

JazzMan
JazzMan

@richcross @JazzMan You are part of the evil known as the catholic church. Good for you. Now, call me another name, you self-righteous sheep.

JazzMan
JazzMan

@JohnDavidJones @JazzMan I hate evil--and the catholic church is full of it. If you defend the catholic church, you defend, aid and abet evil. That's wonderful too.

kikorb
kikorb

@JazzMan @richcross yes the catholic church is corrupted: it has very bad priests but it also has good ones, just like any other institution. It would be very stupid to make a general judgement regarding the church while only looking at one side of the story


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