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 ...


    December 16, 2013 at 9:30 pm |

    Matthew 24:27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

    December 16, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
  6. oo oo

    They never walked with him

    December 16, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      So I said to the Lord,
      ‘You promised me Lord,
      that if I followed you,
      you would walk with me always.
      But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life
      there have only been one set of footprints in the sand.
      Why, when I needed you most, you have not been there for me?’

      December 17, 2013 at 9:07 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        'Well, my son... that is when I was helping one of the other FIVE BILLION PEOPLE on the planet, you selfish fukk. Come on! You were walking back to your Malibu beach colony home and stubbed your toe on some drif.twood, it's not a fukkin' emergency, alright? There's other people with real problems.'

        – David Cross

        December 17, 2013 at 9:19 am |
  7. oo oo

    They criticize Palin.

    December 16, 2013 at 11:00 am |
    • Velandra

      what's not to criticize?

      December 16, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
  8. A.Yeshuratnam

    TIME did the right thing in choosing Pope Francis. A.Yeshuratnam
    .There is nothing to be ashamed of being a Marxist, for Marx got his ideas from Jesus. Jesus attacked priests, capitalists and corrupt rulers in all his speeches. Marx probably would have got ideas for revolutionary socialism from the bold act of Jesus in driving out black marketeers and big business from the Temple premises. The Bible says that Jesus entered into the temple of God, and drove out all of those who sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the money changers' tables and the seats of those who sold the doves. If Jesus came now into many parts of his visible church, how many secret evils he would discover and cleanse! And how many things daily practiced under the cloak of religion, would he show to be more suitable to a den of thieves than to a house of prayer! In Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov, a bishop wants to arrest Jesus for interfering in his nefarious activities. Pope Francis should boldly put into action Christian Marxism. If he fails, Jesus wouldn't recognize him at the time of Last Judgment. How can we say'Marxist ideology is wrong?' The Kingdom of Heaven on earth propounded by Jesus can be compared to the Utopian society envisaged by Marx

    December 15, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
    • lol??

      Did Marx convert from Judaism when his dad did so he could continue his law practice??

      December 20, 2013 at 2:37 am |
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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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.