Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires, is the new pope and leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics. He took the name of Francis, for the saint devoted to the poor. At 76, he has become the first Jesuit and the first Latin American pope.
Pope Francis has been named Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2013 beating out N.S.A. leaker Edward Snowden, who was named runner-up for the annual honor.
The final five contenders also included singer Syria's President Bashar Assad, Edith Windsor, the late lesbian activist whose case against the IRS paved the way for same-sex marriages in the United States, and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX).
The first Latin American pope in history was elected to lead the Catholic Church following the resignation of Benedict XVI on March 13th. Since then Pope Francis has captured the hearts and minds of the millions with his lack of pretension and outspoken populism which has given him the nickname "The People's Pope."
"Rarely has a new player on the world stage captured so much attention so quickly – young and old, faithful and cynical – as has Pope Francis," wrote Time's managing editor, Nancy Gibbs. "In his nine months in office, he has placed himself at the very center of the central conversations of our time: about wealth and poverty, fairness and justice, transparency, modernity, globalization, the role of women, the nature of marriage, the temptations of power."
â€” TIME.com (@TIME) December 11, 2013
The 76-year-old Argentinean assumed the office during a bleak time for the Catholic church – ensnared in scandal, corruption and a loss of followers to evangelical Protestant orders. Time notes the Pope's compassion, humility, and focus on the poor has "changed the music" of the Catholic church and in the process has become "something of a rock star."
A spokesman for the Vatican, Jesuit father Federico Lombardi, issued a statement in response to the honor stating that the pope is "not someone who seeks fame and success, because he has put his life at the service of announcing the Gospel of the love of God for mankind. It is pleasing to the Pope that this service should appeal and give hope to women and men. And if this choice of ‘Person of the Year’ should mean that many people have understood this message – at least implicitly – the Pope is really happy about this."
Snowden, called "The Dark Prophet" by Time, came in second to the Pope for the honor. Snowden leaked to the Guardian newspaper in England documents that revealed how widespread global government surveillance networks actually are.
Time's Person of the Year award goes to the man or woman who has exerted the most influence that year. In 2012, the magazine tabbed President Obama for the honor.