Pope Francis has been named Time magazine's Person of the Year. He says the title will make him happy if it helps attract people to the hope of the Gospel, said the Vatican spokesman. The Catholic News Service reports.
'It's a positive sign that one of the most prestigious recognitions in the international press' goes to a person who 'proclaims to the world spiritual, religious and moral values and speaks effectively in favour of peace and greater justice,' said the spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi.
The choice of Pope Francis 'is not surprising, given the wide appeal and huge attention' to his pontificate so far, Father Lombardi said in a written statement on Wednesday, shortly after the announcement.
'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,' Time said on its website. 'With a focus on compassion, the leader of the Catholic Church has become a new voice of conscience.'
Blessed John Paul II was named Person of the Year in 1994 and Blessed John XXIII in 1962.
Other past honorees include several US Presidents, Mahatma Gandhi, Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin and Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook. The magazine says the title goes to the person or idea that 'for better or worse ... has done the most to influence events of the year.'
The pope 'does not seek fame and success, because he serves to proclaim the Gospel and God's love for everyone,' Father Lombardi said. But if the recognition 'attracts women and men and gives them hope, the Pope is happy.'
The spokesman added that Pope Francis would also be pleased if the magazine's decision 'means that many have understood, at least implicitly, this message' of hope.
Pope Francis tops worldwide list of popular Facebook topics (Huffington Post)