Time Magazine has chosen Pope Francis as its 2013 Person of the Year. But did the magazine pick him for the right reasons?
Time Magazine got it wrong.
Not in choosing Pope Francis as its Person of the Year. That was the perfect–and to my mind, obvious–choice.
No, what Time got wrong was its reasons for choosing Francis.
“What makes this Pope so important,” Time observed, “is the speed with which he has captured the imaginations of millions who had given up on hoping for the church at all.”
Well, hopefully Francis has captured the imaginations of those millions.
But what does Time think those millions have really learned from Pope Francis?
“People weary of the endless parsing of sexual ethics, the buck-passing infighting over lines of authority when all the while (to borrow from Milton), “the hungry Sheep look up, and are not fed.” In a matter of months, Francis has elevated the healing mission of the church—the church as servant and comforter of hurting people in an often harsh world—above the doctrinal police work so important to his recent predecessors.”
True enough. Francis has shown the world what it means to live with the evangelical fervor of an apostle of Jesus Christ. (Not that his illustrious predecessors were slouches in this department. I won’t be surprised if all three of them–John Paul II, Benedict, and Francis–end up being canonized.)
But Francis has imaged particularly well, with moving sincerity, the combination of deep interior life and charity-in-action that the doctors of the Church have proclaimed as the ideal of Christian living. (For more on this theme, see Dom Chautard’s Soul of the Apostolate.)
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