What Time’s Person of the Year choice says to us

Categories: Editorial

It seems what Pope Francis has been saying and doing has captured the attention of more than just the Catholic faithful

Jan. 3, 2014, edition
By Bob Zyskowski

Was anyone really surprised that Time’s editors chose Pope Francis as the magazine’s 2013 Person of the Year?

popefrancistimeGiven the selection criteria — the person who during the past year most influenced the news, for good or bad — the choice wasn’t only obvious, it was affirming, affirming for a number of reasons considering the others on the Time’s list of 10 finalists.

Miley Cyrus is example A.

By selecting Francis, Time chose the spiritually uplifting over degrading debauchery, acts of humility over acts of public lewdness, hugging deformed bodies over baring one’s body to remake one’s image.

(Can’t you just hear parents all across the world, upon viewing the young woman’s twerking, think: “I’m glad Miley Cyrus isn’t ‘my’ daughter.”)

Some choices were easy

Time’s editors apparently chose the Holy Father’s calls for mercy over Syria president Bashar al-Assad’s bombing his own people and the calls of the pope for peaceful dialogue over the fruitless, world-economy-threatening monologue of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.

Kathleen Sebelius kept making news as the Secretary of Health and Human Services, battling Catholic bishops and faithfully religious business owners by forcing them to pay for health care coverage they morally oppose, and, of course, for less-than-effective managing of the launch of the Affordable Health Care website.

Pope Francis’ newsmaking apparently was appreciated more, especially his challenge to the millions at World Youth Day to act with love and mercy, his headline-making in-flight Q and A with reporters on the way back from Brazil and his lengthy, wide-ranging media interviews, all instances in which he shared his faith, his wisdom and his Christ-like approach to the issues of our day.

The gay-rights activism of Edith Windsor, the entrepeneurism of Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, the freezing of Iran’s nuclear program by that country’s President Hassan Rouhani and the leadership of U.S. President Barack Obama — none measure up to the impact that the one-time archbishop of Buenos Aires has made in calling for his own church to refocus on caring for people or his challenge to the world to do the same.

Perhaps one option

Pope Francis has something in common with Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who shared 1.7 million of the National Security Agency’s secrets.

Francis, it appears, has no secrets either.

The pope tends to tell it like it is.

Not everyone agrees with the Holy Father’s opinions nor on his willingness to talk about just about everything, just as not everyone agrees that Snowden’s release of information was a courageous and righteous action.

With regard to Snowden’s leaking the country’s secrets, a legitimate question is, will this spilling of secret information make the globe a more or less dangerous place?

As for Pope Francis, the question is, will what he has said and done to earn being named Time’s Person of the Year in 2013 have a lasting impact on us, so that we can have an impact on our world in 2014 and beyond?