Pope Francis named Time Magazine's Person of the Year

Catherine Mayer, Editor-at-large, Time magazine: "It's not about how good or bad someone has been but how much of a difference they've made"

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Pope Francis has been named Person of the Year by Time magazine.

During his nine months in office, the Pope had pulled "the papacy out of the palace and into the streets", managing editor Nancy Gibbs said.

"Rarely has a new player on the world stage captured so much attention so quickly - young and old, faithful and cynical," she added.

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was runner-up.

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

Analysis

Ever since Pope Francis made his first appearance on the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica on the evening of 13 March, the Vatican has basked in the glow of positive media as he touched hearts across the globe by embracing people with deformities, reaching out to the mentally and physically disabled, kissing the feet of young prisoners, including a Muslim woman, and launching a global consultation on the family.

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.

"In his nine months in office, he has placed himself at the very centre of the central conversations of our time: about wealth and poverty, fairness and justice, transparency, modernity, globalisation, the role of women, the nature of marriage, the temptations of power," Ms Gibbs wrote.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said it was "a positive sign" that one of the international media's most prestigious recognitions had been given to "a person who proclaims.. spiritual, religious and moral values and speaks out forcefully in favour of peace and greater justice".

"The Holy Father is not looking to become famous or to receive honours,'' said Mr Lombardi. "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."

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.

Besides Mr Snowden, this year's other finalists were US gay rights activist Edith Windsor, US Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Pope Francis on St Peter's Square at the Vatican on 11 December 2013 Pope Francis has struck a markedly different tone to his predecessors on several issues since his election in March

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