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"Of Course He Is": 27 Experts Respond to TIME Honoring Pope Francis as 'Person of the Year'

© DR

Brantly Millegan - published on 12/11/13

The Vicar of Christ has received TIME's exclusive honor. Our experts weigh in on what it means for the Church and the world.

Pope Francis was named Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2013. He is the third pope to have received the honor: the two other popes being those he is set to canonize in a few months, John XXIII and John Paul II.

We asked our Aleteia Experts to respond and received a wide range of responses from very positive to very negative, and somewhere inbetween.

Sr. Rose Pacatte, FSP, Director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies

"Not at all [surprised]; his way of integrating faith and life is so authentic that he transcends all the other candidates.

"This is a very good thing because the Pope is startling people with his way of living the Gospel. He took the name of Francis, and no matter which St. Francis we think of when we see Pope Francis, he personifies their lives and example. But taking Francis of Assisi as his "patron" means his program of life and mission is more Christcentric than ever.

"I read the piece on "why" he was chosen and I think the motives of the TIME editors are the right ones, coming as they do from the secular world – that we Catholic Christians often dismiss because we don't think the secular world "sees" what we see. This Pope, like others before him, has drawn the eyes and ears of the world to Christ.

"How many times Jesus told us not to be afraid, to have no fear to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, with Pope Francis at TIME's "Person of the Year" it is a grace. All is grace.

"I think he is [John XXIII's and John Paul II's] true successor. As the first pope to be ordained a priest after Vatican II, Pope Francis integrates the teachings of these Popes, as well as John Paul II and Benedict, is a way new to the world, all of humanity."

Thomas Jodziewicz, Professor of History at the University of Dallas.

"Given the venue, the story seems to me to be fair and balanced. One would expect the usual confusion regarding the distinction between homosexuality and homosexual activity… the first not to be "judged." One can imagine Pope Francis near the well, listening to Jesus in his encounter with the woman living in sin. She finds mercy, which Jesus (and Francis) offer.. One finds it hard to imagine that the Pope would not agree with the parting words…do not sin anymore. The constant problem with, the easily stated distinction between sinner and sin, simply appears to be the true horizon of the Pope's vision. There does need to be a living balance, and persisting connection, between orthodoxy and orthopraxy. The first can be memorized, and that is not wrong in itself. The second must be much more of an act of the will, and charity. The confusion seems to be with a distinction that makes absolutely no sense in an age in which one is one's own truth. To accept, then, my "truth." my sense of morality, sincerely held, is to offer no judgment that what I do is wrong, or "sinful." The hope seems to be that Francis is accepting the second formulation. Our age is literally tone-deaf to the very traditional Gospel posture of Pope Francis, a deafness that ironically, given the overwhelming positive response to the Pope, seems to hunger for his absolution of its incoherent morality and self-centeredness."

Eugene Gan, Professor of Interactive Media, Communications, and Fine Art at Franciscan University of Steubenville

"I'm glad that Our Holy Father Pope Francis is selected as TIME's Person of the Year 2013. TIME claims that "what makes this Pope so important is the speed with which he has captured the imaginations of millions who had given up on hoping for the church at all". While I'm not convinced that "millions" have "given up hoping for the church", it is true that we live in a time of disquiet (to put it mildly). It is also true that Pope Francis, by the grace of God, has a knack for reaching out to the culture of our world today. In this sense, I'm not surprised at all that he was chosen. I am very glad and thankful. In light of the posted comments to this TIME article (including some emotionally negative ones), this is a very good opportunity for Our Holy Father to proclaim the Good News!"

Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J., President and founder of Ignatius Productions

"The choice of Pope Francis is startling, since the announced array of other candidates included Mily Cyrus, Bashar al Assad, and Snowden, who has been leaking US secrets. Pope Francis was not originally included in that list of less than heroic characters — tp say the least. However, the choice of Francis turns the honor from one of the anti-heroes to a most honorable man. Instead of one of the ego-maniacal types who do anything for attention, they chose the pope who humbly bowed when he invited the crowd at St. Peter's to pray for him as he began the Petrine ministry. Instead of a man clinging to power while tens of thousands die, they chose a pope who constantly calls the Church to serve the poor. Instead of a polarizing politician, they selected Pope Francis, who calls Catholics and the world to stop bickering and do something to help the needy. This is a god flash of insight on the part of Time.

"I do not agree with their reasons on all points. Time cannot help but see their analysis through the typical political and ideological lenses with which they view politicians and entertainers. Yet, despite themselves, Time captures some of the key points of the Pope's love of the people rather than seeking their praise like a politician or entertainer. Time recognizes his ability to connect with the folks by his own genuine and natural deeds of reconciliation with people who do not necessarily like him. Finally, for all the difficulties some people in the Church may have with Pope Francis' style and approach, Time proves again that he is able to bring the faith and the Gospel into a public forum. Time still disagrees with the Church, but even they bring the teaching of the Church to the forefront of the magazine, because Pope Francis evokes such a response."

David Deavel, Associate Editor of Logos and Contributing Editor for Gilbert Magazine

"One doesn't have to think that Pope Francis has always been prudent in all his words or actions to realize that Time's choice, while no doubt based on a number of dubious assumptions, calculated misreadings, and misguided desires to remake the Church in their own image, is yet another recognition that, as Lenny Bruce said, the Catholic Church is the Church we mean when we say "The Church." It is also a recognition that the role of the papacy as both a lightning rod and an evangelical agent is not spent. Whether damning him or trying to create a "historical Francis" in the manner of the "historical Jesus," secular figures acknowledge the importance of Peter's See. Francis's papacy, like those of John Paul and Benedict, has involved some mistakes already, but it is proving to have ecumenical force. The real test for Francis will be not just capturing imaginations but also teaching with a greater clarity than he has at times done and governing in a way that strengthens his brother bishops."

Robert Fastiggi, Professor of Systematic Theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary

"I was not completely surprised by the selection of Pope Francis considering the interest his pontificate has generated in the press. He is after all the first Roman Pontiff from the Americas, the first Jesuit, and the first to choose the name Francis. In light of some of the alternate choices mentioned in TIME, I am very happy he was selected.
"Is his selection a good thing for the Church and her mission of evangelization? 
"Yes, I think it is for the very reasons given by Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., the Director of the Holy See's Press Office. As he noted, it's a positive sign that TIME has chosen someone "who proclaims spiritual, religious and moral values in the world." Moreover, the Holy Father's nomination could mean "that many people have understood this message, at least implicitly."
"Even though the article about Pope Francis in TIME reflects some of the biases we have learned to expect in the secular media, it at least stimulates interest in the Holy Father and the Catholic Church. Since the the sad issue of the clerical sex abuse of minors has dominated the secular media's coverage of the Church for over a decade, let's hope that the more positive image the press has of Pope Francis can move some people to learn more about Christ's actual message and the authentic teachings of His holy Catholic Church.  The Holy Spirit, after all, can use TIME's selection of Pope Francis to open hearts and minds to the truth, wisdom, and beauty of Christ's Bride, the Church."

Fr. George Rutler, pastor and author

"Popes do not need honors. They know who they are. That is why the Sovereign Pontiff is not Pope Francis, Ph. D and why, properly, cardinals do not list degrees after their name. When Pope John Paul II was made "Person of the Year" he wryly re-called that Hitler had also been so designated. And so had Stalin and Khrushchev. Pope Francis would graciously accept such an unsolicited honor, and I am sure he would keep in is heart Luke 6:26: "Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets." Only an insecure Catholic would think that secular recognition matters. When a secular journal recognizes the importance of a pope, it may do so in order to appropriate him as illustrative of its own editorial policy. For a while it may be able to treat the pope like an inkblot in a Rohrshach test, interpreting him according to its own designs, but that will not last. Time Magazine has a short shelf life: seventy years ago its circulation was about 20 million and now is about 3.2 million, having declined 21% in just the last ten years. Compare this with the "Watchtower" magazine of the Jehovah's Witnesses – unlikely to have a pope as Person of the Year – with a yearly circulation of 25 million. There may not be a Time Magazine three years from now, and by then it may express "disappointment" that Pope Francis was not what it editors thought. At least Time magazine has more credibility than the Nobel Peace Prize commission."

Msgr. Charles M. Mangan, Director of the Office of the Marian Apostolate Diocese of Sioux Falls

"The Holy Father neither sought this designation nor needs it. Yet, someone who considers this to be a great honor may be inspired to look again at Pope Francis and his words. To this extent this secular tribute is useful."

Frederick W. Marks, member of the Catholic Evidence Guild

"The words of Pope Francis are being "spun" by the media much the way the documents of the Second Vatican Council were. 
"Granted, some of his remarks are susceptible to such "spinning."  But what readers of the 
mainline media will miss are three extraordinary passages in Francis' recent apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium: (1) "How beautiful it is to see that young people are 'street preachers' (callejeros de la fe), joyfully bringing Jesus to every street, every town square, and every corner of the earth!" (#106); (2) As Catholics we must take to the streets even if such evangelization leaves us "bruised, hurting, and dirty" (#49); (3) "Serious, ongoing study of the Bible" is for all dioceses and parishes, as well as Catholic associations (#175).  
"None of this is exactly new. All the popes since at least Leo XIII have been urging, exhorting, BEGGING Catholics to study the Bible (Pope John Paul II recommended taking it on vacations!).  As for evangelization, the Catechism labels it mandatory for salvation (#1816). Again, we have heard it before from the Holy Father.  Blessed John Paul II spoke about proclaiming the Good News fearlessly — from the housetops. It is just that Pope Francis' way of putting things is unique and, as such, should make a deep and lasting impression. 
 "It is time to take back the streets from the Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons!"

Aaron Kheriaty, a psychiatrist and Director of the Program in Medical Ethics at the University of California Irvine School of Medicine

"It is not surprising that Pope Francis was picked for Time’s Person of the Year. From the beginning of his papacy, Francis has attracted and intrigued those inside and outside of the Catholic Church. He commands attention and respect by his actions and his words. This is a man who lives remarkable poverty and detachment, not in order to make a public statement, but because this is simply who he is in his bones — a man who has been transformed by the love of Christ. His deeds, lived with simplicity and sincerity, make his words all the more credible to a world grown skeptical and weary.

"Notoriety is always a mixed blessing, and fame of the “glossy magazine cover” type is notoriously fickle. Francis himself could probably not care less whether he’s on the cover of Time Magazine. But if the cover story introduces people to the Pope in a way that is attractive and inviting, then naturally, God can use the story as is an effective means for the New Evangelization. When John Paul II was named TIME’s Person of the Year, his press secretary Joachin Navarro Valls excitedly tried to show him the cover of the magazine the next morning at breakfast, believing the Pope would be most pleased with the positive press. But John Paul II, to Navarro Valls’ puzzlement, kept pushing the magazine away, indicating he was not much interested. Finally, Navarro Valls asked him, “But Holy Father, don’t you like it?,” to which John Paul II replied, “The problem is that I might like it too much…"

"I suspect that TIME chose him for this honor for both the right reasons and also for the wrong reasons. There’s a deep irony embedded in the entire cover story. It begins by quoting approvingly the Pope’s call to focus less on the usual litany of hot-button issues (issues that the mainstream media cannot stop talking about) — homosexuality, the ordination of women, abortion — and to focus more on the Church’s primary mission of evangelization, justice, and charity. The story goes on, however, to focus obsessively precisely on these issues, trying to parse off-handed comments from the Pope’s interviews and analyzing each word with the singular focus of a Biblical exegete. “Could we possibly read between the lines and interpret this remark to mean the Church is moving in the direction that we want?” and so forth. Francis is not so interested in this kind of thing. Rather, he is interested in is rousing the lukewarm faithful out of their apathy — challenging us to follow Christ in a more radical and convincing way, to lead with our actions which then give credibility to our words. Francis himself is a superb exemplar of precisely this kind of Christian life. I think TIME Magazine somehow recognized this, almost in spite of itself.

"There is another irony embedded in this cover story, which early on cited approvingly Francis’ metaphor of the Church as a field hospital tending to the wounded after battle. This stunning metaphor gives us a challenging picture of what the Church is, and what we are called to do for others. But it also implicitly contains a description of what the modern Western secular world is, and contains a powerful critique. For it suggests that the world has become a war zone, where countless people are lying spiritually wounded and in dire need of help. This battle zone is not a world that the Church should embrace uncritically, Francis suggests. We embrace the wounded, because we love them; but we do not give them over to the very ideologies — unbridled consumerism and greed, narcissism and a cult of sensuality — that wounded them in the first place.

"Francis has made clear the continuity, indeed the deep friendship, between him and Benedict. His first encyclical was drafted by Benedict, and he made a point of saying this in the text itself. TIME’s cynical attempt to caricature the previous papacy in order to highlight Francis’ unique gifts rings hollow. Both men had tremendous gifts that they placed at the service of the Church, and both serve the Church with the same spirit of humility and charity. Francis’ decision to canonize John XXIII and John Paul II at the same time serves to highlight their continuity with one another, and with Francis’ own papacy as well. Popes cannot be compared and contrasted the way we compare and contrast presidents and their cabinets, for the nature of their office is not primarily political. This fact is endlessly beguiling and fascinating to the mainstream media, who are both attracted to and confused by the institution of the papacy, and by the men in recent history who have occupied the Chair of Peter."

Fr. Geoffrey Gneuhs, an accomplished New York City artist

"When one looks at today's world leaders, such as those at Nelson Mandela's memorial service yesterday and their behavior, I think Time magazine had little choice.
"But Time chose Pope Francis for its purposes (it is $1.5 billion in debt), for sensational reasons, emphasizing the Pope's remarks (gliband unnuanced, from last summer and September) on issues the secular world wishes would go away: the dignity of life from conception (without that principle one cannot coherently and honestly speak of human rights and social justice, pace Nelson Mandela); and the true meaning and nature of marriage (it requires the marital act, which only a man and woman can perform—it's about reality, not equality; as well as the proper understanding of sexuality and sexual acts.
"To refer to Pope Benedict'sspeech at Regensberg as "innocuous," as Time did, is absurd.  It was an eloquent explanation of why God cannot be equated with violence.
"Moreover, to cite Francis's comments on capitalism as if new or original is equally absurd.  Popes since LeoXIII have criticized state capitalism, or "crony" capitalism or "rigid" or "extreme" capitalism.  Time apparently hasn't read the encyclicals of John Paul II or Benedict XVI.
"Time's endorsement will only cause more confusion and distortion. Let's pray Francis ceases doing theology through the secular media. Evangelization should be on the Church's terms."

John Michael Talbot, an American Roman Catholic singer-songwriter-guitarist who is founder of a monastic community, the Brothers and Sisters of Charity

"I am excited by time magazine's decision to name Pope Francis the Man of the Year for 2013! Rather then a negative comment about past papacies, it is an enormously positive comment and confirmation of Pope Francis's initial directions in his papacy. It is clear that the ecumenical Christian, interfaith, and even the secular world love this new pope. Though clearly one of the most powerful men in the world, he is showing us how to be humble follower of Jesus even in the exercise of great power. He is leading by following Christ in a way people understand. Everything he says about the Church or the world flows from, and leads back to that personal love relationship, and people are listening again! I am highly supportive!"

Austin Ruse, President of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM)

"The world is obsessed with the Church in general and the Pope in particular. His every utterance is parsed and examined and debated to an astonishing degree. This is like no other global leader. Of course he is Person of the Year!"

Msgr. Richard Soseman, official for the Congregation for the Clergy

"It is wonderful that Pope Francis has been named Time magazines "Person of the Year." It is no surprise, of course, since through Pope Francis the Holy Spirit has taken the world by storm. His particular gifts touch a great majority of people instantly on a profound level, opening their hearts to Jesus speaking to them through His Church, and drawing them back to the fountain of grace. Each Wednesday since March, arriving at my office is a struggle in the morning, as unexpected multitudes of people are drawn to Pope Francis' weekly audience. Pope Francis' message, now recognized for the wider world by Time, has been and will be a great impetus for evangelization, even for lapsed Catholics. The work of the rest of the Church, now, is to continue his work by helping people understand the word of God as he has revealed it to us."

Allan Wright, Academic Dean of Evangelization for the Diocese of Paterson, NJ

"The choice of Pope Francis for “Person of the Year,” is not surprising and at the very least, casts the leader of the Catholic Church in a positive light. One of the desires of Pope Benedict the XVI was to dialogue with those who have been away from the Church and even with those who may have no faith at all. Pope Francis is incarnating, putting on flesh, this encounter with those outside the Church. His humble and simple actions of calling people on the phone, reaching out to those who are wounded or disfigured, and his smile, much like that of Pope John XXIII, draws people to begin a dialogue grounded in faith and friendship.

"For those who are faithful Catholics they will see this in a positive light, yet one only has to look at the comments in Time’s ‘online’ version of the story to see the disparaging comments made by those who have always had it in for the Church. For those who are somewhere in the middle it may force to look at the motivation for this pope’s action and hopefully they will find Christ who animates not only Pope Francis, but all who are alive in the Spirit.

"Time magazine’s bottom line is to sell magazine’s so for that end it was a popular choice and one which will accomplish their goals. Regardless of the reasons why Time Magazine choose Pope Francis it was a good choice on many levels. This man has broken the mold of how the pope functions and is beginning to reclaim the moral authority of the Church which in the eyes of many has wained in the past 40-50 years.

"I believe that he was well represented and perhaps more important than how he was represented to those in the pew, we get a glimpse of how the secular world views the Pope and the Church.

"The time frame is too early in my opinion for proper comparison’s to Pope John XXIII and John Paul II yet two aspects are readily apparent. Pope Francis and Pope John XXIII seem to have a very similar smile which in itself attracts and disarms. Pope Francis has the same missionary zeal as Pope John Paul II and while its early in his pontificate, with the impact of social media, Pope Francis is extending his reach through frequent stops within Rome and through having his message disseminated through Face Book, Twitter and the like."

David Fagerberg, Associate Professor of Liturgy and Senior Advisor Notre Dame Center for Liturgy at the University of Notre Dame

"Chesterton said saints are medicines for us by being antidotes: they restore the world by exaggerating what the world neglects, and it is a good sign if our proud and avaricious world instinctively seeks the poverty and humility of Mother Teresa and St Francis, and now admires the Holy Father who has taken this saint’s name. In his book Catholic Church and Conversion Chesterton said "We do not really want a religion that is right where we are right. What we want is a religion that is right where we are wrong." I could adapt it for our purposes here. There are many things about Pope Francis that I already like, but he will be doing his job as the Holy Father when he calls me to some things I don't like as much. There are things in Catholicism I already understand, but I remain with Mother Church because she tells me things I do not yet understand."

Fr. Paul Sullins, Associate Professor of Sociology at Catholic University of America

"TIME Magazine's "person of" designation is not an encomium–both Hitler and Stalin were so distinguished, and this year's runner-up was the wanted American criminal Edward Snowden–but a recognition of the world-changing influence, for better or worse, of a person in the news.  It is a wonderful recognition, emphatically for better, of the transformative emergence of Pope Francis onto the world stage.  Time's excellently-crafted tribute attributes his influence to personal style and piety, with an element of disappointment and irony about his actual message.  They praise him for winsomely disentangling the Church's message from hot-button liberal/conservative controversies, while systematically reviewing his take on the hot-button liberal/conservative controversies.   

"What TIME's editors don't seem to comprehend is that, in the engagement of the new Pope with liberal culture, the Pope will not be the one to change his mind.  Catholics know this already, more or less abstractly, from the promise of the Church's indefectibility, but it is also plainly evident in the man's words and behavior.  True simplicity is a fountain of power.  It is much more important to TIME magazine to honor the Pope in this way than it is to him to be so honored.  He could hardly care less, except as it may further the message of Christ; and in this lies his power and wisdom to surpass the culture.  

"Francis' profound choice to be the first pope to take the name of the great 13th-century Saint Francis belies TIME's own choice for the most influential person of the last millennium (Genghis Khan).  Francis invites us, repeatedly, to eschew wealth and embrace humility, not because these things are good in themselves, but because they lead to and follow from an encounter in faith with Jesus Christ.  Like Francis back then, our Francis has caught the conscience of the world, not because of his personality or simplicity, but because he reveals a glimpse of someone greater, who has made the world and everyone in it, and for whom every human heart is hungry.  In its story TIME cites (repeatedly) the things Francis has said we Christians are not to focus on, but never cites the message he says we *are* to focus on: "God has saved you."  TIME thinks this man has come to reform the Church; Francis understands he has come to redeem the world."

Fr. Roger J. Landry, pastor of St. Bernadette Parish in Fall River, Massachusetts, and is national chaplain of Catholic Voices USA

"Time Magazine made the right call. Francis has captured the attention and hearts not only of Catholics, but so many non-Catholics, and even so many media members who were previously dismissive or hardened against religion in general and the Church in particular. When you look at the other finalists — an NSA whistleblower, a gay activist, a Middle-eastern dictator, and a Republican politician — the decision was a no-brainer. None has had anywhere near the global impact Pope Francis has had in his first nine months as pope.

"Time's Nancy Gibbs and Howard Chua-Eoan said that he was chosen for the distinction because he had become a "new voice of conscience," pulling the papacy "out of the palace and into the streets," "changing the way we think about the Church," drawing "a vast, global ecumenical audience" to follow him, and giving "so many people so much hope and inspiration in the last nine months," something "no one else has done" this year. Those are all reasons that should fill us with joy.

"It's certainly an opportunity for the Church that so many are paying attention to what Pope Francis is saying and doing. But whether it turns out to be good or bad depends on whether people — Catholics and non-Catholics alike — go from being idle observers and cheerleaders to those who act on Pope Francis' words and imitate his loving deeds. It's great that people admire Pope Francis, because admiration is certainly a start on the road to conversion. But it's important to get beyond mere veneration. The reason why Pope Francis is so inspiring, I think, is because he reminds us of Jesus Christ, his love and his truth. And if Pope Francis does not succeed in helping those who admire him to come to a life-changing, joy-filled encounter with Jesus Christ, then his celebrity in the long run is not particularly helpful.

"Pope Francis is certainly like both [John XXIII and John Paul II, the two other popes to have won TIME's award] in his deep Catholic faith, his trust in Jesus' truth, and his desire to put his command to love into practice. He also shares with both a capacity to lead boldly, precipitating paradigm shifts that are both faithful to the deposit of the faith but also apposite to the changing circumstances of the time. With John Paul II he shares incredible charisma and great courage. With John XXIII he shares a radiant sense of joy and humor. The biggest differences from both of them come from his path to the papacy and how that life-experience obviously influences how one lives out his discipleship and priesthood as the Bishop of Rome. John XXIII was influenced by the ravages of two World Wars, John Paul II by the evil of Communism. Francis has been influenced most, I think, by his Jesuit formation and by the endemic poverty experienced by so many in Latin America. Those are already both clearly evident in the way he's exercising his new office."

Holly Taylor Coolman, Assistant Professor of Theology at Providence College

"The mainstream media has gotten some things wrong, but, in selecting Pope Francis as "Person of the Year," they have gotten something deeply right. What has touched people so deeply about Pope Francis is something at the heart of Jesus' own ministry, something at the heart of the gospel itself. Although he occupies a position of prestige and influence, the pope has set aside his own comfort to live out real compassion and love, especially for those most likely to be passed over. What Time describes as a "self-effacing facade" is not simply a facade, but the person himself, transformed by his own encounter with Christ. Time says that Pope Francis "has captured the imaginations of millions who had given up on hoping for the church…." I would argue that something even larger is at work here. In this Advent season, his compassion, humility, and joy have captured the imaginations of many tempted to give up altogether. In a weary and discouraged world, he shows us again the shape that real hope takes."

Fr. C. John McCloskey III, Church historian and Research Fellow at the Faith and Reason Institute in Washington DC

"Not at all surprised; he clearly is the most interesting person in the world in his openess and frankness of opinions and certaily is shaking up the universal church in the way that has not happened since John Paul II. Is there anyone in the the US or for that matter in the devloped world who has not heard of him or does not have a an opinion about him pro or con?

"He is similar [to John XXIII and John Paul II] in many ways to both of them given his willingness to shake the Church Up while at the same time as he hast to be in faithefulness in doctrine."

David Clayton, Artist-in-Residence and Lecturer in Liberal Arts at the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts

"To some degree I am surprised when the secular press offers anything positive about the Church, but I am less surprised about this than I would have been if Pope Benedict had been picked!

"I think it is a good thing, although I think he is misunderstood by some and in part this is why he has been chosed. Many critics of the Church think that he is going to change the mission of the Church and want to support what they see as the undermining of traditional Catholicism. In practice, so far at least, this is not what the Pope is – he is saying things in a different way but the content isn't as different as many liberals hope for.

"I think that in many ways the secular press in general is responding to a personal charisma without thinking very deeply about what he is actually saying. They hear what they hope he might be saying and like him personally.

"I don't know very much about John XXIII, but I would say that despite what ultra-traditionalists fear and liberals hope, Pope Francis is very much an orthodox post Vatican II figure. He has a popular appeal and a personal charisma like JPII but seems less inclined to try to engage in academic discourse – its early days, but what it looks like to me is not a Pope with lots of original ideas, but more one who has grasped all that has gone before (including the liturgical aspects of Pope Benedict, for example) and who wishes to see this transmitted into the popular piety and personal relationships of all Christians, and through this to all people. He is very outward looking and one says (guardedly because it is early days) that this is just what is needed now. Not someone who will innovate, but someone who will transmit all that has happened to ordinary Catholics in ways that are understandable.."

Lawrence DiPaolo, Jr, Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Sacred Scripture at the University of St. Thomas

"I was not surprised that Pope Francis was picked nor was I surprised when John Paul II was picked as they both exemplify the energy which is the hallmark of a new pontificate.  There was the same high level of interest for Blessed John Paul II, although for different reasons.  Then, the world was emerging from the Cold War and a young Polish Pope captured the imagination of the world.  JPII was the first non-Italian Pope in centuries and the first from within the orbit of the Soviet Union.  Pope Francis also represents a string of firsts which have attracted the eye of the media, namely the first Pope from South America and the first elected from the Jesuits.  Like JPII he clearly brings a high level of energy to the first year of his pontificate and, also like JPII, seems to be quite photogenic and prone to photo opportunities.
"I do believe, however, that the Time article is going a bit far in emphasizing the novelty of Pope Francis.  If you have read the encyclicals that have come out under his pontificate, the overriding impression you get is one of continuity with Benedict XVI and indeed Bl. John Paul II.  Even in his many public statements he does not seem to be cutting any terribly new ground other than to say that the Church's position on numerous issues has been made patently clear (i.e. teachings on homosexuality, contraception, abortion, capital punishment, etc.) and that there are other aspects of the teachings of the Church that can also come into public discourse such as how we all are to treat the poor, the immigrant and the marginalized.  Pope Francis is championing the new Evangelization that was started under his predecessor with an emphasis on the entirety of the Gospel and not solely those aspects of the Gospel which can be shoe horned into a thirty-second sound bite by the media."

George Neumayr, a contributing editor to The American Spectator


"This has become one of the corrupt liberal elite's most fatuous awards. It is an empty honor, reflective of nothing more than the Left's gratitude to Pope Francis for soft-pedaling the Church teachings it hates."

Robert Enright, a Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Wisconsin

"As a Professor in the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I have a question for you.  A show of hands, please, from all of you who think that if someone gets, say, 95% of the information correct on an essay, then that student deserves an A for excellence.  I see……most of you raised your hands.  Yet, I disagree.  You see, it all depends on what the errors are in the other 5% of the essay.  Are the errors grave or minor?  Will the errors lead the reader astray or make no difference whatsoever in his or her life?

"The Time magazine piece on Pope Francis is impressively detailed and filled with important information about the Holy Father.  As one example, consider this important point from the article: “….if somehow by his own vivid example Francis could bring the church into a new relationship with its critics and dissidents—agreeing to disagree about issues that divide them while cooperating in the urgent mission of spreading mercy—he might unleash untold good.”  It shows how the Holy Father can keep two sides of an issue on the table, accept the tension between them, and then strive for truth in an action of mercy toward all, a key development in the new pontificate.

"Now to the 5% error here.  Further into the article we read this: “His vision is of a pastoral—not a doctrinaire—church, and that will shift the Holy See’s energies away from demanding long-distance homage and toward ministry to and embrace of the poor, the spiritually broken and the lonely.”  A synonym of “doctrinaire” is “uncompromising.”  The writer has slipped in what I call “either/or” thinking: Either the church is pastoral or it focuses uncompromisingly on doctrine.  Yet, one has no vision or purpose for one’s mercy without a guiding philosophy, which itself will be an uncompromising doctrine if it stands in the truth.  One never compromises with truth and such a philosophical assumption must undergird the quest for that truth and for mercy to the poor.  It is as if the writer is asking us to choose.  Such distortion is grave because it de-couples mercy and truth, a dangerous move that would not only re-define Mother Church but alter her essence.  

"Beware of the writing that is 95% accurate."

Steven Mosher, President of the Population Research Institute

"The secular left, whose mouthpiece TIME magazine has become, is endlessly hopeful that the last significant bastion of resistance to their dictatorship of relativism–the Catholic Church–will fall into its hands.  After all, most other institutions, from the universities and the governments of the U.S. and most European countries, to the media itself, have already succumbed.
"I am not the least bit surprised that TIME Magazine picked Pope Francis to be its Man of the Year.
"They view each new pope as a potential liberator, freeing the Church from its "medieval" insistence that God Himself laid down rules for human behavior that we violate at our peril. Each time, they are disappointed.  Pope Francis will disappoint them, too, for at the end of the day, as he himself has insisted, "he is a son of the Church."
"In the meantime, however, believing that they can shape perceptions–and even reality itself–with their words, they will continue to portray him as a secular messiah."

Edward Mulholland, an Assistant Professor of Modern and Classical Languages at Benedictine College

"I am not surprised that Pope Francis was picked. The news arc of the papal resignation, the conclave, the first Latin American pope, and Pope Francis first months as pope has dominated a lot of this year. I don’t think there is anyone else that has had a similar impact on the world this year.

"I think, in general, it is a good thing for the Church. But, as the pope has said today, he is not after worldly fame. If he is seen in a positive light as a force for good and moral truth, that is a good thing for the Church.

"Pope Francis’ call for renewed efforts to help the poor has caught the world’s eye. This does not diminish his commitment to the Church’s teaching on other issues which are less readily accepted in our culture. It was the witness of charity among Christians that won over the Roman Empire. It is that witness which gives added credibility, in the eyes of the world, to what the Church teaches. It may be a very effective means of Evangelizing to bring people into the service of goods they can easily perceive (like ending hunger) so their eyes can be opened to goods they have a harder time seeing (like the life issues.)

"Pope Francis is like both of the saintly popes he is about to canonize because he is a radical, radically rooted, that is, in his deep experience of Christ. He shares with both of them an integral view of the Church’s mission in this world, bringing mankind to the fullness of “temporal welfare” (in Evangelii Gaudium Francis quotes this very phrase from John XIII) and leading all to the plenitude brought by Christ. He differs from them in management style, preferring to work with a smaller circle of advisors."

Tim Drake, the New Evangelization Coordinator with the Holdingford Area Catholic Community in the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota

"It's no surprise at all that Pope Francis was named Time's Man of the Year. The media has been quite taken with the Pope, with his lack of pomp, with his personality, with his reforms, with his off-the-cuff remarks, and with the way he has embraced the poor, the sick, the alienated. As media reports have demonstrated, he is dominating Internet news and searches.
"The Time story does a good job of representing the Pope's history, where he came from, and the reforms he has made during his short time as pontiff.
"Unfortunately, Time's story, like so many secular reports, paints a false dichotomy between what it describes as "liberal" and "conservative" elements within the Church, as if the election of Pope Francis somehow means that the Church will no longer be paying attention to doctrine or dogma. Of course, the Church is neither "liberal" or "conservative." The Time story also hints at the possibility of the Church changing her doctrine or teaching. Again, this is wishful thinking on the part of the writers.
"Still, Time's attention to the Pope, serves to draw attention to the Catholic Church, and Jesus Christ, whom he represents. For the purposes of evangelization, such attention is a good thing. The world needs Christ.
"While each Pope may differ in style or their delivery, they always serve to represent and point to Christ. Each Pope accentuates a particular theme of the Gospel message; Pope Francis, like his namesake, has been accentuating the message of service and "loving our neighbor." I believe that Cardinal Timothy Dolan has described Pope John Paul II as the Pope of "faith," Pope Benedict XVI as the Pope of "hope," and Pope Francis as the Pope of "love." I think it's an apt description.
"While his style and delivery are certainly different, Pope Francis is like those who have gone before him in that he is demonstrating, through his words and deeds, how we are to love one another. In that, he has been completely consistent with his predecessors."

SEE OUR OTHER COVERAGE OF POPE FRANCIS:

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