Today, Time Magazine awarded its annual "Person of the Year" title to Pope Francis. The award isn't much of a surprise to people who have been paying attention to the pontiff's incredible run since he was elected Pope in March of this year.
When the previous pope, Benedict, chose to resign at the beginning of 2013, most people assumed that he was abdicating his position because the Catholic church was stuck in a rut. In recent years, the church has been hit with scandal after scandal. Public opinion waning considerably in the midst of the Church's apparent inability to change with the times.
So, when Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected to the papacy, Catholics and non-Catholics didn't have hope for a grand revitalization of Church. Sure, when Bergoglio chose the name Francis, after a beloved saint who was known to be a reformer, the intention was clear (this is a new Catholic Church), but skeptics (this writer wholly included) considered the move to be a lip service acknowledgement of the Church's need to change, without expecting any actual change to result.
And then the guy started saying things like "The Church should be poorer" and "We should work together, regardless of our religion" and "It's not for mortals to judge people on things like their sexuality". You know, things you imagine a pope actually saying, but have never actually heard.
More than that, Pope Francis I has actually followed through with these statements. He drives a modest vehicle. He often doesn't wear the grandiose garb of his office. He lives in the guesthouse, rather than the lush papal apartments because he wants to stay humble. The guy even sneaks out of the Vatican at night so he can commune with common people without any interference.
It's taken only a few, short months for Pope Francis to make giant steps towards revitalizing the world's opinion of not just the Catholic church, but organized religion in general. That's no easy feat, even for the mouthpiece of God.
So, in light of Pope Francis' prestigious (and well deserved) honor, join us as we look back over the pontiff's first year in office and revisit some of the new pope's best quotes.