TIME magazine has chosen its “Person of the Year” for 2013 and, to no real surprise, that person is Pope Francis I, the Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. The papacy, stated TIME, “is mysterious and magical,” transforming “a septuagenarian into a superstar while revealing almost nothing about the man himself.”
And yet, in these polarized times, the Pope also “raises hopes in every corner of the world — hopes that can never be fulfilled.” Why? Because those hopes are as polarized as the times. Conservatives long for a Defender of the Catholic Faith while liberals hope for a radical transformer of church doctrine. No pope can deliver both of those hopes.
But make no mistake — TIME did not choose Pope Francis because the editors see him as a Defender of the Catholic Faith. That is how they saw the two immediate past popes, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Francis was chosen because he is already seen as a liberalizing force, working enthusiastically for change, even as he works within the constraints of Catholic tradition and the church’s magisterial authority.
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