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Pope Francis is TIME’s “Person of the Year”

Pope Francis is TIME’s “Person of the Year”

The Choice: Nancy Gibbs on Why Pope Francis Is TIME’s Person of the Year 2013

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.

Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, Senior Religion Editor, The Huffington Post:

But why? I think it is because he is so refreshingly different from what people have become accustomed to associate with religious leaders. Religious and non-religious people alike have been bitterly disappointed with the judgmentalism, the sectarian righteousness, the unabashed commercialization, banal spirituality and otherworldly concerns of so many religious leaders and their followers in all different traditions.

Pope Francis resonates with so many people because he actually lives up to the highest ideals of religion which challenges us to think both about our personal spiritual life alongside the concerns of the “other.” Pope Francis is viewed as authentic, the real deal, a true religious leader because he proclaims a radical call to justice for those most vulnerable and peace between nations and individuals in this world within the framework of an orthodox religious faith. Pope Francis combines the the social gospel with personal piety in a complete package of the religious ideal.

Related, Americans as a whole approve of the Pope Francis, as reported in The Washington Post:

Among Catholics, 92 percent have a favorable view of Francis and 95 percent say the same of the church, a poll released Wednesday finds. Francis’ popularity marks a large increase from former Pope Benedict’s 73 percent favorable rating in a February Post-ABC poll just after he announced his retirement….

Non-Catholics also voice largely positive views of Francis — 62 percent favorable and 18 percent unfavorable; 21 percent have yet to form an opinion. Benedict drew only 48 percent favorable views among non-Catholics immediately after announcing his resignation in February, while 31 percent saw him unfavorably.

Pope Francis was also Facebook’s most popular topic in 2013. From The Independent:

Social media phenomenon Pope Francis was the most popular topic globally on Facebook, ahead of the royal baby Prince George, the Harlem Shake and controversial US star Miley Cyrus.

The new charismatic pontiff is a champion of the poor and has clearly lifted the gloom felt by the Catholic Church which was under siege from scandal. Whether he was making friendly overtures to other faiths or embracing a man severely disfigured by disease – Francis drove more conversation than anyone else in 2013.

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Gary Paul Gilbert

I forgot to check the link to the Pope's Peace Day sermon. It doesn't work. Here's a better one.

Murdoch Matthew

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Gary Paul Gilbert

The Bishop of Rome was at it again, criticizing excessive salaries and diparaties of wealth:

Pope Francis said in the first peace message of his pontificate that huge salaries and bonuses are symptoms of an economy based on greed and inequality and called again for nations to narrow the wealth gap.

In his message for the Roman Catholic Church's World Day of Peace, marked around the world on January 1, he also called for sharing of wealth and for nations to shrink the gap between rich and poor, more of whom are getting only "crumbs".

"The grave financial and economic crises of the present time ... have pushed man to seek satisfaction, happiness and security in consumption and earnings out of all proportion to the principles of a sound economy," he said.

Indeed, what could an executive actually do to earn $15 million a year? The only point would seem to be, to be more important than another executive earning only $11 million a year. Executive salaries and bonuses have escalated in a gigantic pissing contest. Unfortunately, the riches have real social weight to be thrown around.

Which is why Marcy Wheeler ("Emptywheel)"says:

I’m probably fairly lonely among my crowd to be satisfied that Time picked Pope Francis over Edward Snowden to be Person of the Year. Not only do I prefer that the focus remain on the reporting on NSA than revert back to caricatures like Time creates of Snowden as a “Dark Prophet” reading Dostoevsky. The Pope’s criticism of — above all — inequality may have as much or more impact on people around the globe as Snowden’s criticism of the surveillance state.

Would that both the [Roman] Catholic Church and the United States live up to the idealist claims they purport to espouse.

But reading the profile Time did of Snowden, I . . . suspect they picked the Pope out of either fear or ignorance about what Snowden actually revealed. [Their) section on the lies NSA has told. . . [is] full of bullshit.

Check out Emptywheel. Ms Wheeler offers some of the best in depth investigative reporting on the Web.

Murdoch Matthew (not Gary)

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Paul Woodrum

I'm still suspicious of this Jesuit in Franciscan habit.

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Gary Paul Gilbert

One Twitter noted that TIME would sell more newsstand copies with the Pope on the cover -- probably true. The Pope's prominence so far is mostly public relations -- it would have been well to hold off pronouncing on his influence until we see whether his gentler tone or his right-wing appointments tell the truer tale.

For impact on the news and the public, Edward Snowdon isn't runner-up but leading by lengths. He's provided a window into the big secret government that's been running things from behind the scenes for decades.

This is Murdoch, not Gary. Typepad wouldn't let me sign in with Google.

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