Time Person of the Year: Pope Francis

Pope Francis has been selected by Time magazine as the Person of the Year.

Pope Francis waves to faithful as he arrives for his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)

NEW YORK, NY (CBS) -- Pope Francis has been selected by Time magazine as the Person of the Year.

In only his first year, the pope was selected by the magazine's editors as the person who had the greatest impact on the world, for good or bad, during 2013.

Time 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.

Leaker Edward Snowden finished second as Time announced its choice on the "Today" show Wednesday.

Millions everywhere, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, are talking about what the former Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio is doing and saying since he ascended to lead the world's largest religious institution.

Francis has given the world plenty of reason to pay attention recently.

On Dec. 2, the pope departed from his scripted remarks to a group of bishops in the Netherlands to talk about sexual abuse.
The pope said: "I wish to express my compassion and to ensure my closeness in prayer to every victim of sexual abuse, and to their families. I ask you to continue to support them along the painful path of healing that they have undertaken with courage."

Those remarks came just days after he revealed to parishioners in a church near Rome that he had a job as a bouncer during his youth in Argentina, joking that now his job is to bring people into the fold, not kick them out.

To that end, Pope Francis has taken a rather populist tone, and, if the rumors are to be believed, he has acted on it too.

He has talked often about the church's obligation in helping the poor and has beefed up the post of "Almoner of His Holiness" – a centuries-old position that involves distributing money from the Holy See to the poor and marginalized.

Last month, an 85-page document published by the Vatican called an Apostolic Exhortation - essentially Francis' mission statement - outlined where he wants the Catholic Church to go and what kind of church he wants it to be.
In the words of the document, Francis wants to see "a church that is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets."

Concern for the poor and a shunning of life's luxuries have been benchmarks of Francis' papacy from day one. His exhortation castigated what he called "the new idolatry of money," and described the gap between rich and poor as being the result of "ideologies which defend the autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation."

"I beg the Lord," Francis wrote, "to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor."

Officially called "Evangeli Gaudium" or "The Joy of the Gospel," the instructions, philosophy and admonitions are wrapped in what Father Mike Russo of St. Mary's College in San Francisco called the new pope's "great emotional intelligence."

"Be a church of joy. Don't go to events as if you're going to a funeral. You have to exemplify the very joy of the Gospel. I think he's extraordinarily good at that. He has that kind of emotional intelligence that leaders around the world want," said Russo.
For the church, the pope is as close to an absolute ruler as it's possible to be, but Francis said he was "open to suggestions" about how to change the nature of the papacy.
Included in that is the debate over women taking a greater role in the church, but that won't be as radical as the other changes the exhortation called for. The issue of female priests, the pope said in the document, "is not a question open to discussion."

Nonetheless, Pope Francis has made it clear that major changes are on the way and they're going to be at every level and in the style he sets for the Catholic Church with every word he utters, or writes.

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