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Pope Francis Is Time’s Person of the Year 2013

The Inauguration Mass For Pope Francis
Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Time magazine has named Pope Francis its 2013 Person of the Year.

When Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina was elected pope on March 13, 2013, he became the first non-European leader of the Catholic Church in more than 1,200 years. He was the head of the diocese in Buenos Aires since 1998, and became a cardinal in 2001. He rose to his current position following the surprise resignation of Pope Benedict in February, the first time a sitting pope had resigned since the year 1415.

Pope Francis has distinguished himself as the “pope of the people,” focusing his efforts on helping the poor and reminding his followers of Jesus’ message that it is the duty of all Christians to aid those in need. This concentration on issues like poverty and economic justice has been coupled with a de-emphasis of various social issues, like gay marriage, abortion and whether women should be admitted to the priesthood.

The 76-year-old Francis follows traditional Catholic doctrine on those topics, but he has chosen to make his papacy about far more than that. This has brought him both support and criticism from fellow religious and social leaders, but, as Time explains, it has also rejuvenated the church’s standing with the more than 1 billion Catholics around the world:

In a very short time, a vast, global, ecumenical audience has shown a hunger to follow him. 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 judgment with mercy, Pope Francis is Time’s 2013 Person of the Year.

You can hear Time’s editors discuss their decision below:

[Time]

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