El Paso, TX (KDBC) — Pope Francis is credited with shifting the message of the Catholic Church and capturing those who had become disillusioned with the Vatican. Now Pope Francis has been named as Time Magazine's Person of the Year in 2013.
Francis is a man of many firsts: The first non-European Pope in the modern era; the first Pontiff from South America; and the first Jesuit to be elected head of the Roman Catholic Church. He's not the first Pope to be named Time's Person of the Year. Pope John the 23rd was honored in 1963 and Pope John Paul the second in 1994. However, Pope Francis is the first Pope to receive the honor in the first year of his papacy.
In its announcement, Time Magazine wrote, "He took the name of a humble saint and then called for a church of healing. He comes at a time when the Church seemed to be needing a huge burst of new energy."
Time said Francis stood out as someone who has changed the tone of the church in "an extraordinary way"
"This particular pope has captured the imagination of quite a lot of people, both people in the Catholic world and not in the catholic world; people in the world of religion and not in the world of religion. He has reached out to Atheist organizations, no pope has ever done that in the past," said Dr. Ann Horak, Director of Religious Studies at UTEP.
The Pontiff held his weekly audience in Saint Peter's Square Wednesday. As has already become a tradition in his short time as Pope, he took time to interact with the audience and kiss children on his way to the stage. Pope Francis has been noted for his common touch with the people.
"We've seen so much more of this Pope than we've seen of any other pope and that I think has had a dramatic affect as well. He's out a lot engaging with other people, he's no longer using the pope mobile, he's really been a very activist pope and we've seen that in real time on FB, on twitter on a variety of social media platforms in a way that we have never before with any other Pope," said Horak.
Following Pope Francis in the top five were NSA leaker Edward Snowden, gay rights activist Edith Windsor, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.
The top 10 also included Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, singer Miley Cyrus, President Barack Obama, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services.