Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Pope is Time's Person of the Year

Person of the Year*
The giddy embrace of the secular press makes Francis suspect among traditionalists who fear he buys popularity at the price of a watered-down faith. He has deftly leveraged the media’s fascination to draw attention to everything from his prayers for peace in Syria to his pointed attack on trickle-down economics, which inspired Jesse Jackson to compare him to Martin Luther King Jr. and Rush Limbaugh to wonder whether he’s a Marxist. When you are a media celebrity, every word you speak is dissected, as are those you choose not to speak. Why has he not said more about the priest sex-abuse scandal? ask victims’ advocates. (Just this month, he set up a commission to address the abuse of children by priests.) Why does he not talk more about the sanctity of life? ask conservatives, who note that in his exhortation, abortion is mentioned once, mercy 32 times. Francis both affirms traditional teachings on sexuality and warns that the church has become distracted by them. He attacks priests who won’t baptize children born out of wedlock for their “rigorous and hypocritical neo-clericalism.” He declares that God “has redeemed all of us … not just Catholics. Everyone, even atheists.” He posed with environmental activists holding an antifracking T-shirt and called on politicians and business leaders to be “protectors of creation.” 
None of which makes him a liberal—he also says the all-male priesthood is not subject to debate, nor is abortion, nor is the definition of marriage. But his focus on the poor and the fact that the world’s poorest 50% control barely 1% of its wealth unsettles those who defend capitalism as the most successful antipoverty program in history. You could argue that he is Teddy Roosevelt protecting capitalism from its own excesses or he is simply saying what Popes before him have said, that Jesus calls us to care for the least among us—only he’s saying it in a way that people seem to be hearing differently. And that may be especially important coming from the first Pope from the New World. A century ago, two-thirds of Catholics lived in Europe; now fewer than a quarter do, and how he is heard in countries where being gay is a crime and educating women for leadership roles is a heresy may have the power to transform cultures in which Catholicism is a growing, even potentially liberating force.
Time made the right choice (even if for some wrong reasons).  The Pope is widely popular among Catholics and is obviously making a significant impact on his terms.  Do I think he will be another John XXIII*?  No.  Nor will he be another Benedict or John Paul II.  The labels liberal and conservative are premature for this Pope.

How the Pope Francis cover was done...
Time also reveals its myopia. Edward Snowden runner up? The Snowden story is worth noting as a significant one for 2013, but he is not of this level (despite the damage he caused and may further cause in the future).  TOM:  The scoop that wasn't a scoop... (some of this Snowden stuff is old news)

AoSHQ: The left is repulsively political... He's right.
AoSHQ: Ace does not even want to link to Time


  1. Frances is a communist.

  2. Hey, Miley Cyrus was also a contender, so what TIME says doesn't mean much.

    PS Francis is not a woman.


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