Pope Francis named Time’s Person of the Year

Pope Francis has been named Time magazine's Person of the Year 2013. The pontiff was praised for turning the Catholic Church around within months of arriving at the Vatican.

Pope Francis named Time's Person of the Year
Image: Time magazine

The Argentine Pope, elected in March, beat off competition from US whistleblower Edward Snowden, who came second, and third-place Edith Windsor for her gay rights campaigning in New York.

Named "The People's Pope" by Time, the pontiff is "poised to transform a place that measures change by the century".

Despite only being in the post a matter of months, Pope Francis has already "moved early to tame the mess that is the Vatican Bank" and last week set up a committee to tackle sex abuse, described by Time as "the church’s darkest existential problem".

READ MORE: Vatican sets up child sex abuse committee

Along with the practical steps taken by the pontiff in recent months, Pope Francis – who took his name from the patron saint of the poor – was praised for changing the approach towards vulnerable groups.

"In a matter of months, Francis has elevated the healing mission of the church…above the doctrinal police work so important to his recent predecessors," Time said, citing the often repeated teachings of former popes against divorce, abortion and gay people.

The former janitor and nightclub bouncer put Archbishop Konrad Krajewski in charge of helping poor people, telling him to sell his desk and get out onto the streets to help people. Earlier this month, the Vatican denied that Pope Francis himself accompanies Krajewski on his nightly walks – a denial that was described as a "necessary precaution" by Time.

READ MORE: Pope 'leaves Vatican at night in disguise'

The Pope has also invested time in speaking to Catholics outside the Vatican walls, such as during a trip to Brazil early on in his papacy to address young Catholics. Much has also been made of his phone calls to his followers, including an Italian teenager who had written a letter to the pontiff.

READ MORE: Pope Francis calls Italian teen for a chat

While Time was full of praise for its Person of the Year, not all of the magazine's most influential individuals of 2013 are known for having a positive impact.

In at number four in this year's ranking was Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, described as "the lethal tyrant" who violently crushed peaceful protest in the country and now presides over a state in civil war.

Time has not shied from controversial choices in naming its person of the year in the past. In 1938 Adolf Hitler was named Man of the Year, followed by Joseph Stalin in 1939 and 1942.

But peacemakers have also made the front page, such as in 1994 when F.W. De Klerk, former South African president, and Nelson Mandela were jointly celebrated for their fight against apartheid.

Pope Francis is the second pontiff to be named Time's most influential individual of the year, nearly 20 years after Pope John Paul II clinched the title in 1994.

Watch a video of why Time magazine chose Pope Francis as Person of the Year:

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Pope Francis meets Viktor Orban in worldview clash

Pope Francis met with the anti-migration Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban behind closed doors on Sunday at the start of a brief visit to Budapest where he will also celebrate a mass. 

Pope Francis meets Viktor Orban in worldview clash
The Pope embarked on September 12 on his 34th international trip for a one-day visit to Hungary for an international Catholic event and a meeting with the country's populist leader, and a three-day visit to Slovakia. Photo: Tiziana FABI / AFP

The head of 1.3 billion Catholics — in Hungary to close the International Eucharistic Congress — met Orban, accompanied by Hungarian President Janos Ader, in Budapest’s grand Fine Arts Museum.

The Vatican television channel showed the pope entering the museum, but did not show images of the two men meeting, but Orban posted a photo of the two shaking hands on his Facebook page.

On one hand, Orban is a self-styled defender of “Christian Europe” from migration. On the other, Pope Francis urges help for the marginalised and those of all religions fleeing war and poverty.

But the pope’s approach to meet those who don’t share his worldview, eminently Christian according to the pontiff, has often been met with incomprehension among the faithful, particularly within the ranks of traditionalist Catholics.

Over the last few years, there has been no love lost between Orban supporters in Hungary and the leader of the Catholic world.

Pro-Orban media and political figures have launched barbs at the pontiff calling him “anti-Christian” for his pro-refugee sentiments, and the “Soros Pope”, a reference to the Hungarian-born liberal US billionaire George Soros, a right-wing bete-noire.

‘Not here for politics’

From early Sunday, groups of pilgrims from around the country, some carrying signs with their hometowns written on them, were filing under tight security toward the vast Heroes’ Square in Budapest, where the pontiff will say mass to close the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress.

“We are not here for any politics, but to see and hear the pope, the head of the Church. We can hardly wait to see him. It is wonderful that he is visiting Budapest,” Eva Mandoki, 82, from Eger, some 110 kilometres (70 miles) east of the capital, told AFP.

Eyebrows have also been raised over the pontiff’s whirlwind visit.

His seven-hour-long stay in 9.8-million-population Hungary will be followed immediately by an official visit to smaller neighbour Slovakia of more than two days.

“Pope Francis wants to humiliate Hungary by only staying a few hours,” said a pro-Orban television pundit.

Born Jorge Bergoglio to a family of Italian emigrants to Argentina, the pope regularly reminds “old Europe” of its past, built on waves of new arrivals.

And without ever naming political leaders he castigates “sovereigntists” who turn their backs on refugees with what he has called “speeches that resemble those of Hitler in 1934”.

In April 2016, the pope said “We are all migrants!” on the Greek island of Lesbos, gateway to Europe, bringing on board his plane three Syrian Muslim families whose homes had been bombed.

‘Hungary Helps’

In contrast, Orban’s signature crusade against migration has included border fences and detention camps for asylum-seekers and provoked growing ire in Brussels.

Orban’s supporters point instead to state-funded aid agency “Hungary Helps” which works to rebuild churches and schools in war-torn Syria, and sends doctors to Africa.

Orban’s critics, however, accuse him of using Christianity as a shield to deflect criticism and a sword to attack opponents while targeting vulnerable minorities like migrants.

Days before the pope’s arrival posters appeared on the streets of the Hungarian capital — where the city council is controlled by the anti-Orban opposition — reading “Budapest welcomes the Holy Father” and showing his quotes including pleas for solidarity and tolerance towards minorities.

During the pope’s stay in Budapest he will also meet the country’s bishops, and representatives of various Christian congregations, as well as leaders of the 100,000-strong Hungarian Jewish community, the largest in Central Europe.

Orban — who is of Calvinist Protestant background — and his wife — who is a Catholic — are to attend the mass later Sunday.

Around 75,000 people have registered to attend the event, with screens and