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Pope Francis I, the first leader of the Catholic Church born in Latin America, has been named TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year. Since being elected pope, Francis has revived interest in the church worldwide and shown greater acceptance of those outside the church.
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires was elected in March, following a short, two-day conclave. He picked the name Francis and is a Jesuit. He represents the fastest growing Catholic population in the world and asked that people pray for him.
Since then, he has made remarkable comments, proving to be more open than any of his predecessors. In May, he said that everyone is redeemed through Jesus, even those who do not believe in God. In another interview in September, he suggested that the church was too obsessed homosexuality, contraception and abortion. Francis told a Jesuit magazine that the church should be a “home for all,” not just for those who strictly adhere to the church’s rules.
“At a time when the limits of leadership are being tested in so many places, along comes a man with no army or weapons, no kingdom beyond a tight fist of land in the middle of Rome but with the immense wealth and weight of history behind him, to throw down a challenge,” TIME managing editor Nancy Gibbs wrote in her essay explaining the choice. “The world is getting smaller; individual voices are getting louder; technology is turning virtue viral, so his pulpit is visible to the ends of the earth.”
Howard Chua-Eoan and Elizabeth Dias wrote the magazine cover story on Francis. The magazine said that the four runners-up were NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad and gay rights advocate Edith Windsor.
image: Time Magazine