An extraordinary (not so extraordinary when you consider other winners like Hitler and Stalin) accolade for Pope Francis, for Time Magazine to name him the Person of the Year.
He is the third pope in church history to receive the honour, the other two being Pope John XXIII in 1962, and Pope John Paul II in 1994, interestingly both these popes being canonized by Pope Francis next April in the same ceremony.
But what is so remarkable here is that this has happened to Pope Francis, in less than twelve months on the job, a remarkable index on how a Vicar of Christ has had such an impact not just on Catholics, but on people of all ideological persuasions, in such a short time. As they said today, this man has brought the papacy \”out of the palace, and on to the streets\”.
Of course, part of the adulation for Jorge Bergoglio is that he is perceived as someone who has thrown off the shackles of the past, and wants to make the Catholic Church more like other institutions in the wider society.
I believe a case can be made against this thesis, but I am not overly worried about this perception either.
For starters, Pope Francis is a boon to evangelization. It has not been for some time that Catholics have been able to hold on to something, seen as so inspiring, particular after the abuse crisis which has lost the Church major credibility.
Even if the likes of Jane Fonda and Elton John approve of this pope, perhaps in the long run that will be to our advantage. It gives a Vicar of Christ, a captive audience.
And when it is time to say really tough things, he will be listened to.
When Our Lord started his public ministry, many of his new followers had a false conception of Jesus. They believed him to be an earthly Messiah who would liberate them from Roman occupation. Even his apostles believed that, until He told them that \”the kingdom of God is within you\”. And what about in St John\’s Gospel Chapter 6, when He gave His discourse on the Bread of Life. Many people who heard this found this teaching about eating His Body and drinking His Blood very challenging, and \”they no longer walked with Him\”.
Jesus then said to Simon Peter, \”Will you also depart from me?\” He answered, \”Master, where shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life\”.
The same will happen with Pope Francis. Many of his new admirers will no longer walk with him, (when confronted with the reality of Catholic teaching and practice) but some may have received the grace of conversion, when considering a man who in so many of his actions, is so Christ like.
via Te Deum laudamus!: Guest Post by Andrew Rabel on Pope Francis being name, “Person of the Year,” by Time.
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