US Catholic Faith in Real Life

And Time's "Person of the Year" is... Pope Francis!

By Caitlyn Schmid | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
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It's that time of the year again. Time magazine made its choice for the most influential public figure—be it for better or worse. 

The top ten nominees were announced earlier in December; the finalists were NSA leaker Edward Snowden, gay rights activist Edith Windsor, singer Miley Cyrus (really Time, really?), among others.

News this morning has spread quickly and the winner of the "Person of the Year" contest is Pope Francis.

The Time article (which can be seen in full text here) provides a good profile of his life, before and during the papacy. His actions have captured the attention of the entire world—both Catholic and secular—in only nine months, an incredibly fast amount of time. Since his election as pope in March, Francis has made great strides to change the way the world sees itself and he has done it with compassion, humility, and faith.

Some are criticizing Time for choosing the pope, saying that Edward Snowden would have been a better choice for the title. The Switch said that “Time's person of the year isn't supposed to be a popularity contest” and “by leaking details about the clandestine programs in use by the NSA and its surveillance partners around the world, Snowden has ignited a fierce debate about the meaning of civil liberties in the 21st century in the United States and abroad.”

However Time justifies their choice of Francis because of his global influence in every corner of the world. Here’s a video that Time produced listing the reasons why they chose Pope Francis as their “Person of the Year”:

His other critics over the past few months may also want to remove his new title. Catholic traditionalists have criticized his actions as being too progressive in his approach to the teachings of the church. Progressive Catholics have their concerns that he isn’t changing things enough. (There are also some who argue, as the Washington Post writer Charles C. Camosy, that he is neither “conservative” nor “liberal” but simply a Catholic.)

All eyes are on him—Catholic and otherwise. He may not have changed church dogma or doctrine, but what the pope has changed is the tone of the church in “searching for a pragmatic path to reach the faithful who had been repelled by their church or its emphasis on strict dos and don’ts.” His comments on homosexuality, divorced and remarried Catholics, the role of women in the church, and others have challenge all of us to love one another, to listen to one another, and to be compassionate toward one another.

He has stepped down from the papal pedestal of his predecessors, living simply as his namesake St. Francis of Assisi did. With humility and grace, he has reminded us that we are all human beings. None of us are perfect. But if we take care of one another—and that includes the poor, the broken, the hurting—we can thrive in this imperfect world together. He is a constant reminder that love heals all.

The ironic part of this whole process is that I’d imagine the pontiff isn’t that pleased with being named the person of the year. When Francis was first elected, his official biographer, Sergio Rubin, told the Associated Press in an interview that the pope is “most comfortable taking a low profile” “It’s a very curious thing: When bishops meet, he always wants to sit in the back rows,” Rubin said about Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s pre-pope days. “This sense of humility is very well seen in Rome.” This makes me think that he would rather turn the spotlight off of himself and onto those in greater need of our attention: the sick, the dying, the hospitalized, the poor, the lonely, the forgotten. For his humility alone—if you need no other reason—he deserves the title.

I have no doubt that Pope Francis will continue doing great things through 2014 and beyond.

Pray for him. And stay faith-filled, my friends.

What do you think? Does he deserve the title as Time’s 2013 “Person of the Year”?