Time Magazine in its highly anticipated announcement proclaimed Pope Francis the coveted Time’s Person of the Year. The recipients of this recognition are judged not on the results of their fame, but on the impact their deeds have on the world population at large. Consequently, Edward Snowden finished second in the magazine’s final vote tally, as his exposure of the NSA wiretapping scandal changed the way we view our privacy. This approach is unique and fascinating since someone’s impact can be a dual edged sword.
Pope Francis is assuredly leaving an indelible mark on Catholics and non-Catholics, alike. Although he has not done anything to change the centuries old dogmas of the church, he is providing everyone a reason to reexamine their image of the Holy Father and the Catholic church overall. Pope Francis’s new emphasis on inclusion, fairness, and humbleness makes many who believed that religion had merely become corrupted by the commercialistic, survival of the fittest society we have created can now find some solace in his preaching’s.
Unfortunately, there are those who see this breath of fresh air as an offensive slight on the fundamental teachings of the religion. They protest the Pontiff’s actions of reaching out to homosexuals, washing the feet of the poor and most of all, openingly condemning the faults which are inherit in capitalism. Many, who see themselves as devoted practicing Catholics, also advocate loudly for the virtues of unmanaged capitalism. They believe the detrimental toll which capitalism takes in the short run on the most vulnerable in society is justified because in the long run the growth which is fostered will act like a tide and lift the level of all whom wish to aspire. However, being from Argentina, Pope Francis has witnessed the free, blind hand of the markets crushing anyone who is unable to fend for themselves.
These opposing viewpoints provide the groundwork for very healthy discussions on the role of religion in economics and politics. For too long, our history has seen the religious leaders of the period stand lockstep with the political and economic beliefs of the time, dragging the masses like sheep to the slaughter. It is refreshing to see Pope Francis stand up in opposition to the conventional wisdom and provide a dissenting opinion. It is for this reason alone that everyone should enthusiastically applaud Time Magazine’s choice.
Though it is unclear now how this Pope’s preaching’s will resonate through the church in the future, or if his actions will have long lasting effects on the tenements of the religion, one thing is definitely apparent, this Pontiff has changed the dynamics of the discussion, and greatly increased the bar for the Popes which shall follow.