TIME MAGAZINE HAS named Pope Francis its Person of the Year for 2013.
Announcing this year’s December cover story, the magazine says he is poised to transform a place that measures change by the century.
The pontiff beat off competition from Edward Snowden, Edith Windsor, Bashar Assad and Ted Cruz.
As the shortlist highlights, the honour is not a judgement on good deeds, rather an indicator of how much influence a person has had in a 12-month period.
Explaining the decision making process, contributor Howard Chua-Eoan says Pope Francis was chosen because he was the first pope from the ‘New World’ who cares for the poor.
He is bringing back the Church’s own ethos, he added.
He comes at a time when the Church needed a burst of energy and he has a charisma that “comes from nowhere”, continues Chua-Eoan.
“He hugs people, he washes the feet of convict, he says Mass for immigrants in faraway islands.” “He says he wants a battlefield, hospital church…to help everyone who needs an embrace.”
The Pope is also more open about homosexuals, divorced Catholics and women who have had abortions, according to the magazine.
“The fact that he has given so much hope and inspiration in the past nine months…no one else has done that this year. For that alone, for changing the way we think about a church and seemingly [to] be able to shift this 2,000 year old institution one way…he is Person of the Year,” concluded Chua-Eoan.
Following the announcement, Wikileaks shared their disappointment on Twitter, tweeting:
Cowardly TIME choses Pope over #Snowden for person of the year (as per #Assange in 2010 who won the popular vote)
Last year’s winner was US President Barack Obama, who had also previously won in 2008. Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai was named as the runner-up.
Other winners through the decades include Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin (who won twice), Ayatollah Khomeini, Henry Kissinger and Newt Gingrich.