December 11, 2013 — Pope Francis has been named 2013’s “Person of the Year,” the iconic title given to one individual or group each year since 1927 by the editors of Time magazine. The title goes to the person who has had the greatest impact on the world and news for the past year, and previous recipients include Mahatma Gandhi, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Martin Luther King Jr., as well as two popes: Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II.
“Power is not just political. It can be cultural, it can be spiritual,” said Nancy Gibbs, Time’s managing editor. According to Time, the first Jesuit pontiff “won hearts and headlines with his common touch and rejection of luxury.”
Since his election on March 13, 2013, Pope Francis’ simple style and focus on the poor have captured the world’s attention. “Pope Francis is a man with a deep connection to the poor and marginalized,” said Father Thomas H. Smolich, S.J., president of the Jesuit Conference. “He knows how to translate what is in his heart into actions — whether it’s washing the feet of Muslim prisoners on Holy Thursday to launching a global campaign to end world hunger to establishing a commission to address the clerical sexual abuse crisis. He desires to lead a Church that unifies rather than divides, and he gives both believers and seekers a reason to be proud.
“The Society of Jesus salutes Pope Francis, our Jesuit brother, on the singular honor of being named Time magazine’s Person of the Year,” said Fr. Smolich.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi, S.J., said in a statement that “the Holy Father is not looking to become famous or to receive honors. But if the choice of Person of Year helps spread the message of the Gospel — a message of God’s love for everyone — he will certainly be happy about that.”