Is there anyone who doesn't love Pope Francis?
Time magazine named Pope Francis its Person of the Year; Esquire named him best dressed. And now the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has named the pope his "personal" person of the year: "Well, I'd probably have several," demurred Welby, according to the BBC, "but if you want one, I'd put him there. He's extraordinary."
Well, not for everyone maybe. The pope's recent apostolic exhortation drew concern from at least one (and probably several) wealthier Catholics, including Ken Langone, whose fortune comes largely from Home Depot and who is heading up the $180 million fundraising effort to restore St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. Langone is concerned it's going to be hard to drum up seven-figure donations for the cathedral project if the pope is seen as bashing the super-rich. "You want to be careful about generalities. Rich people in one country don't act the same as rich people in another country," he reportedly told Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Big Apple. Speaking of generalities...
Time will tell if Francis' strong criticism of market capitalism will continue in 2014--and I expect it will. But lest we forget, what made Pope Francis possible was the resignation of his predecessor, now quietly retired in the Vatican gardens. Much of Pope Benedict's caretaker papacy will be quickly forgotten, I'd wager, but his decision to resign will be an enduring reform that I expect will be repeated by Francis should he live long enough--and hopefully by popes thereafter. And for that I will be raising a glass to Pope Benedict XVI when the clock strikes 12 tonight.