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He took the name of a humble saint and then called for a church of healing. The first non-European pope in 1,200 years is poised to transform a place that measures change by the century

The Shortlist

  • He pulled off the year's most spectacular heist. Exiled from his country, the 30-year-old computer whiz has become the doomsayer of the information age

  • In her ninth decade, she started a judicial odyssey, fighting a battle she never expected to wage—let alone win. Now she's the matriarch of the gay-rights movement

  • The doctor turned despot kept his grip on power. Still he sits uneasily on his contaminated throne. As Syria disintegrates, another generation of turbulence awaits

  • In 2013, the audacious upstart shut down the government on a hopeless quest to stop the President's signature policy. Love him or hate him, he is a vision of the future

The Year in …

Person of the Year Archive

2012

The campaign wasn’t pretty, and the economy worse. but he reasserted himself as a potent architect for a changing America

TIME's Person of the Year is bestowed by the editors on the person or persons who most affected the news and our lives, for good or ill, and embodied what was important about the year. See who made the grade over TIME's first eight decades.

See them all
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