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Pope Francis is 'person of the year': So what’s new?
Pope Francis was named Time magazine's Person of the Year on December 11.
December 11th, 2013
05:58 PM ET

Pope Francis is 'person of the year': So what’s new?

By Ben Wedeman, CNN

ROME (CNN) – When the white smoke billowed from the chimney in the Sistine Chapel, we ran, along with thousands of others, up the Via della Conciliazione to Saint Peter’s Square to hear the announcement. We waited around 45 minutes, then heard the name “Bergoglio”

“Who?” was my first reaction. I looked around in confusion. CNN Rome cameraman Alessandro Gentile shrugged his shoulders, as did producer Livia Borghese. Others around us, with the exception of an older English woman, who must have been an amateur Vaticanista, were equally mystified.

In the nine months since that night in March, we’ve come to know Jorge Bergoglio, otherwise known as Pope Francis. He keeps us busy almost every day, with his latest pronouncement, his latest gestures, large and small. I have a pile of books about Francis on my desk. The Google news alert I set up months ago for “Pope Francis” now fills up my e-mail box, exceeding other alerts for Italy, Rome, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Israel, Iran, etc. I regularly listen to podcasts about Francis on my phone.

For foreign journalists based in Rome, Pope Francis has in fact been our “person of the year” long before Time magazine settled on him. He quickly eclipsed the noisy, chaotic game of musical chairs called Italian politics. And Francis has turned out to be a balm for those who for year after year had to cover flamboyant scandal-drenched former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as their like-it-or-not Italian “person of the year.”

At home, my lapsed Catholic Italian wife has put Francis’ picture on the wall. Italians are notoriously cynical when it comes to public figures, but ask them about “Papa Francesco” and their reaction is almost invariably positive and effusive.

“He has a humble heart, he’s great, he’s beautiful,” gushed a giddy middle-aged woman from the Naples area when we asked her Wednesday what she thought of Francis becoming Time’s Person of the Year.

And regardless of who wins the title next year, at this rate we can assume, at least here in Rome, Francis will be person of the year for several years to come.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope Francis

soundoff (612 Responses)
  1. billy vidal

    new soldier of alien

    January 5, 2014 at 9:08 am |
  2. Tim

    The Pope presides over a religion that claims that only its leaders and he can rightly interpret the Bible. What arrogance! He is not admirable, but rather a false prophet.

    December 17, 2013 at 9:35 am |
  3. mary L

    Santa is not real. He is the spirit of Christmas. He has attributes of kindness, generosity compassionate, and giving all rolled up in a red suit and hat with the intention of making children happy. He is modeled from the person of St. Nick but without acceptance by all he becomes fictional.

    December 17, 2013 at 8:11 am |
  4. 7

    Everyone is welcome to visit ...

    http://www.thetreasureofzion.com

    December 16, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.