It seems that everyone agrees Pope Francis should be Time’s ‘Person of the Year 2013′.
Better him than Miley Cyrus, at any rate, or Bashar
al-Assad, and Francis deserves it, too.
This year he has — forgive the
media-speak — changed the narrative about Christianity in the liberal
He’s spreading the Good News, not just reacting to the bad.
But Catholics have mixed feelings about all this acclaim for their new Pope.
Peggy Noonan put her finger on the key point in the Wall Street Journal,
when she suggested that Time would choose Francis because he is
different ‘in ways Time’s editors and reporters find congenial’.
It was telling that, in their blurb about the nominees, Time
announced that ‘the first Jesuit Pontiff won hearts and minds with his
common touch and rejection of church dogma’.
Of course Pope Francis has
not rejected Church dogma at all.
Time were quick to correct themselves,
yet their mistake revealed again the liberal bias against Catholicism:
Catholics are only praised if they are seen to rebel against their
This attitude makes Catholics distinctly uneasy.
It can only be a
matter of time before the journalists who now laud Francis turn on him.
They will say he has disappointed them when he does not embrace all gay
rights, condoms, and women popes.
Which is why my person of the year, for what it’s worth, is not Pope
Francis, but Pope Benedict XVI.
Because he had the humility to realise
he could no longer carry on leading the Church.
Because he had the guts
to resign, against all modern precedent, and make way for a more dynamic
Because Pope Francis is in fact enjoying many of the fruits of his
Benedict was not some right-wing pitbull: just like
Francis, he continually stressed the importance of divine love, as well
as the dangers of global capitalism, and he did not obsess over sexual
Benedict also did an enormous amount to bring about Christian
unity by reaching out to the Orthodox, disgruntled traditionalists and
Anglicans, and other denominations.
Because the secular media could never understand him.
But most had all because Benedict has had the astonishing grace to
stay silent as the media falls in love with Pope Francis. He has not
reacted — in public anyway — as the world decided that Francis’s
humility and warmth was a sharp contrast to him and everybody
insinuated that, unlike the adorable Francis, Benedict was some sort of
reactionary ego-maniac, when in fact he is the opposite.
So — Pope Benedict, man of the year 2013, for removing himself from the public eye and for keeping his mouth shut.