Pope Francis is Time's 2013 Person of the Year
(TODAY) -- Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pontiff who won hearts and headlines with his humility and common touch, was named Time magazine's Person of the Year for 2013, the magazine revealed Wednesday on TODAY.
iconic title goes every year to the individual chosen by Time editors
as someone who has had the most impact on the world and the news - for
better or worse - over the past year.
Pope Francis stood out "as
someone who has changed the tone and perception and focus of one of the
world largest institutions in an extraordinary way," Time managing
editor Nancy Gibbs said Wednesday.
"So much of what he has done in
his brief nine months in office has really changed the tone that is
coming out of the Vatican. He is saying, 'We are about the healing
mission of the church, and not about the theological police work that
had maybe been preoccupying us.'"
The magazine staff makes the
ultimate decision, Gibbs said, but they poll readers and take public
opinion into account. This was the third time Time named a pope as its
Person of the Year.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told TODAY in a statement
that "the Holy Father is not looking to become famous or to receive
honors. But if the choice of Person of Year helps spread the message of
the gospel - a message of God's love for everyone - he will certainly be
happy about that."
The Argentinian was elected pope in March,
just weeks after the surprise abdication of his predecessor, Pope
Emeritus Benedict. He quickly reshaped the public image of the papacy,
challenging Catholics and Protestants alike on the interpretation of
Church dogma on issues ranging from homosexuality to capitalism.
Pope Francis beat out several other heavyweights on the short list for Person of the Year, including the person who held the title in 2012, President Obama.
Snowden, an American fugitive and former National Security
Administration contractor who leaked thousands of top-secret documents
about U.S. surveillance programs, ranked second in Time's list.
out the top five were gay rights activist Edith Windsor, whose Supreme
Court victory led to the fall of the Defense of Marriage Act; Syrian
President Bashar Assad, for the role he played in his nation's civil
war; and Tea Party darling Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican known for
his filibustering skills.
"It was a very interesting choice this year," Gibbs said.
Pope Francis won the popular vote on TODAY.com, with an overwhelming 59 percent.
Eun Kyung Kim, TODAY