Time Magazine has been releasing a “Person Of The Year” issue since 1927, and this year’s choice is widely agreed upon: Pope Francis. According to the magazine, the subject chosen for the cover is “the person or persons who most affected the news and our lives, for good or ill, and embodied what was important about the year.” The pope has certainly got that covered; he was the most talked about figure on Facebook around the world in 2013.
“In his nine months in office, he has placed himself at the very center of the central conversations of our time, about wealth and poverty, fairness and justice, transparency, modernity, globalization, the role of women, the nature of marriage, the temptations of power,” said Time’s managing editor Nancy Gibbs. “When he kisses the face of a disfigured man or washes the feet of a Muslim woman, the image resonates far beyond the boundaries of the Catholic Church.”
The famous issue began in 1927, when, at the end of the year, the editors realized they hadn’t put Charles Lindbergh on any covers. As a justification, they decided to designate him “Man Of The Year” a few months later, and a tradition was born.
But lately, the magazine has received some backlash for considering certain figures for “Person Of The Year”–such as Miley Cyrus–along with influential leaders. Editor Radhika Jones says it’s done that way because they want to include all parts of our culture, whether or not they are considered to be important by everyone.
“Those people are not always world leaders or presidents of the United States or CEOs. Sometimes they are Julia Child or Woody Allen or Charlie’s Angels,” Jones said. “And some of those covers are the most enduring covers of TIME. I’m not saying Miley Cyrus is the equivalent of Charlie’s Angels, but I do think there are arguments to be made for cultural figures. They don’t impact the news in the same way a dictator would, but they certainly signal something about where the world is at a given time. If people remember 2013 as the year of Miley Cyrus twerking, I wouldn’t say that’s entirely wrong.”
As for Pope Francis, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi says he hopes the cover will spread his message.
“The Holy Father is not looking to become famous or to receive honors. But if the choice of Person of Year helps spread the message of the gospel– a message of God’s love for everyone– he will certainly be happy about that.”
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