12 Dec 2013

Pope Francis named person of the year

7:10 am on 12 December 2013

TIME Magazine has named Pope Francis as its person of the year.

TIME magazine cover

Photo: AFP / TIME Magazine / Jason Seiler

The magazine said that in the nine months that he has served as the leader of the Catholic church he had become a new voice of conscience.

Managing editor Nancy Gibbs said that rarely on the world stage had a new player captured so much attention so quickly.

She said Pope Francis had placed himself at the centre of debates about poverty, wealth, globalisation and other important issues.

The pontiff has struck a markedly different tone to his predecessors on several issues since his election.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the then cardinal archbishop of Buenos Aires, became Pope in March. He named himself Francis after a 12th Century Italian saint who turned his back on an aristocratic lifestyle to work with the poor.

Since then, he has eschewed some of the more regal trappings of high office, made headlines by washing the feet of prisoners, and is planning some major reforms to the Church.

A Vatican spokesperson said the decision of TIME magazine was positive news, but stressed that Pope Francis seeks neither personal fame, nor success.

This is the third time a Pope has received the recognition from TIME magazine: John Paul II was selected in 1994 and John XXIII was chosen in 1962.

The BBC reports other finalists were NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, US gay rights activist Edith Windsor, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

Mr Snowden told the magazine he hopes his disclosures will help bring about changes by forcing a rethinking by the public, the technology community, the American courts and Congress.

He is living in Russia where he has temporary asylum.