UK & World News

  • 11 December 2013, 19:13

Pope Francis Named Time Person Of The Year

Time magazine has named Pope Francis as its Person of the Year.

The US magazine chose the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church as the most influential figure of the year in its annual review.

The 76-year-old Argentinian was picked from a varied shortlist that included Syrian leader Bashar al Assad, NSA leaker Edward Snowden, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and twerking superstar Miley Cyrus.

Francis became the 266th leader of the world's Roman Catholics in March this year, following the surprise abdication of Benedict XVI.

Time called the Pope a "septuagenarian superstar" and said he had taken "the name of a humble saint and then called for a church of healing".

Managing editor Nancy Gibbs said Pope Francis had changed the tone, the perception and focus of one of the world's largest institutions in an extraordinary way.

She wrote: "For pulling the papacy out of the palace and into the streets, for committing the world's largest church to confronting its deepest needs and for balancing judgement with mercy, Pope Francis is Time's 2013 Person of the Year.

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

"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."

Former NSA contractor Snowden, whose intelligence leaks caused a media sensation worldwide and led to him seeking sanctuary in Russia, was named the runner-up. 

The other names on the shortlist were Texas senator and darling of the Tea Party Ted Cruz; US president Barack Obama, who won last year; Iran's new president Hassan Rouhani; US health secretary Kathleen Sebelius; and gay rights activist Edith Windsor.

Time has been choosing a Person of the Year since 1927, when it nominated pioneering aviator Charles Lindbergh.

The magazine insists it chooses the most influential person "for better or for worse" - previous winners have included dictators like Hitler and Stalin as well as figures usually seen as forces for good, such as Mahatma Gandhi and Lech Walesa.

Previous papal winners include Pope John Paul II in 1994 and John XXIII in 1962.

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