Pope Francis has been named the Person of the Year by Time Magazine.
The managing editor of the magazine, Nancy Gibbs, said the Pope had changed the perception of the Catholic Church, and its approach to the outside world.
She said he had pulled “the papacy out of the palace and into the streets”, adding: “Rarely has a new player on the world stage captured so much attention so quickly – young and old, faithful and cynical.”
“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,” she wrote.
This is the third time a pope has been chosen for the award.
Edward Snowden, NSA whistleblower was a runner up, alongside Edith Windsor, a key player in the battle to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act in the US.
Last month, US President Barack Obama said he had been “hugely impressed” by Pope Francis’ recent remarks admitting the Roman Catholic Church was “obsessed” with preaching about abortion, same-sex marriage and contraception.
“It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time,” Pope Francis told La Civiltà Cattolica, the Italian Jesuit journal in September. “The dogmatic and moral teachings of the Church are not all equivalent. The Church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently,” he said. “We have to find a new balance,” adding, “otherwise even the moral edifice of the Church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.”
Speaking to reporters in July during a plane journey back to the Vatican following his trip to Brazil, Pope Francis said that gay people should not be judged or marginalised and should be integrated into society.
The comments suggested the beginnings of a new era in civility by the Vatican on the issue of same-sex relationships – if not in doctrinal position – Pope Francis also referred to the Catholic Church’s universal Catechism, which states that while being gay is not sinful, homosexual acts are.
Speaking to Time Magazine reporters after he was named ‘Time Magazine Person of the Year’, US President Barack Obama reflected on the transformation made to attitudes towards homosexuality in America.