This is no Adam Levine 2.0. No “selfie” revisited. Oh no. Time chose wisely for their person of the year. That’s right folks, it’s Pope Francis, the heppest cat the Vatican has ever seen. You can read Time’s full write-up here, but this was the money quote for me:
But 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. 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. John Paul II and Benedict XVI were professors of theology. Francis is a former janitor, nightclub bouncer, chemical technician and literature teacher.
But for all its praise, the article doesn’t whitewash the pontiff. They touch on some of the aspects more cynical observers have called Francis out for:
And 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.”
Being an atheist, I don’t really have a horse in this race and I realize your preference in spiritual leader may have less to do with his fondness for selfies and liberal attitude than mine does. That being said, it makes me happy that this is the face of the Catholic church. Clown nose and all.