Time magazine has named its Person of the Year for 2013, and even though Miley Cyrus was leading the popular vote, as we reported recently, the controversial pop star did not get the title. That went to Pope Francis.
"What makes this Pope so important is the speed with which he has captured the imaginations of millions who had given up on hoping for the church at all," Time reports. "People weary of the endless parsing of sexual ethics, the buck-passing infighting over lines of authority when all the while (to borrow from Milton), ‘the hungry Sheep look up, and are not fed.’ In a matter of months, Francis has elevated the healing mission of the church — the church as servant and comforter of hurting people in an often harsh world — above the doctrinal police work so important to his recent predecessors."
Noting that Pope Francis is a former janitor, nightclub bouncer, chemical technician and literature teacher, the report adds: "Behind his self-effacing facade, he is a very canny operator. He makes masterly use of 21st century tools to perform his 1st century office. He is photographed washing the feet of female convicts, posing for selfies with young visitors to the Vatican, embracing a man with a deformed face. He is quoted saying of women who consider abortion because of poverty or rape, ‘Who can remain unmoved before such painful situations?’ Of gay people: ‘If a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge.’ To divorced and remarried Catholics who are, by rule, forbidden from taking Communion, he says that this crucial rite ‘is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.’”
The report also notes that the new Pope remains faithful to the party line on a number of issues. "Francis signals great change while giving the same answers to the uncomfortable questions," the story reports. "On the question of female priests: ‘We need to work harder to develop a profound theology of the woman.’ Which means: no. No to abortion, because an individual life begins at conception. No to gay marriage, because the male-female bond is established by God. ‘The teaching of the church … is clear,’ he has said, ‘and I am a son of the church, but’ — and here he adds his prayer for himself — ‘it is not necessary to talk about those issues all the time.’”