- Reform, rebuild and renew
On Thursday Pope Francis will have completed a year as Bishop of Rome, a year in which he has begun to transform the Church. But be in no doubt, argues our Rome correspondent, of just how wide and how deep go his aims for change
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Pope Francis has been declared The Times' Person of the Year. In the nine months since the election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope the newspaper said he has "changed the nature of the debate on religion and modernity".
The Times' leader of 26 December recalled that John XXIII, elected Pope in 1958, instituted the Second Vatican Council as a means of "opening the windows of the Church" whereas Pope Francis had done so by force of his personality. Quoting the Epistle of James' observation that faith alone without good works is dead, The London-published newspaper went on: "Francis has exemplified concern for the poor and despised, not as a matter only of personal conduct but of theology. And in this respect, he gives every indication of making the Church a vital actor on the world stage."
Alluding to Francis as the first Latin American Pope, the paper said that his emphasis on alleviating poverty had the weight of experience and concluded: "In making it the centrepiece of his papacy, Francis has placed the claims of faith at the heart of temporal affairs. The Catholic Church has been in need of an exceptional man and it appears to have found one"
Earlier this month, the American magazine, Time, named Pope Francis Person Of The Year. He recently won the same accolade from an American gay rights magazine, The Advocate, which quoted his remark to journalists on the papal plane in July: “If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?” The magazine said the Pope is the "single most influential person of 2013 on the lives of LGBT people."