The Priest of the Year


From Time Magazine:

“The Vatican on Wednesday responded to TIME naming Pope Francis as Person of the Year for 2013 by saying the Holy See doesn’t seek “fame,” but that it’s a “positive sign” religious and moral values are being recognized.

          “The decision didn’t come as a surprise given the great resonance and attention surrounding the election of Pope Francis right from the start of the new pontificate,”  Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, head of the Holy see’s Press Office, said in a statement. “The fact that one of the most prestigious awards to be attributed by the international press should go to someone who promotes spiritual, religious and moral values as well as call for peace and greater justice in an incisive manner is a positive sign. As for the Pope himself, he’s not someone who seeks fame and success, because he has put his life at the service of announcing the Gospel of the love of God for mankind. It is pleasing to the Pope that this service should appeal and give hope to women and men. And if this choice of ‘Person of the Year’ should mean that many people have understood this message – at least implicitly – the Pope is really happy about this.”

          In announcing Pope Francis as TIME Person of the Year earlier Wednesday, TIME managing editor Nancy Gibbs wrote that Francis got the nod “for pulling the papacy out of the palace and into the streets, for committing the world’s largest church to confronting its deepest needs and for balancing judgment with mercy.”
          For those of you who have followed me for a while, you know that I have written several commentaries on the papacy and this Pope, starting with with “Art, Life and the Papacy.” I ended that commentary, written on March 13, with the following:
         ”My hope is that this conclave can find a Healer in its mist. There are several papile who could do the job. My hope that the elected man to take on this awesome task will be guided by St Luke and have the vision to heal a wonderful institution that is sick and ailing, and needs a healing hand to find its way back to good health.

Perhaps Taylor Caldwell and Dan Brown had the vision to see what was needed before anyone else. This time, perhaps, life WILL imitate art. We can only hope and pray.”

         Thus far, Francis has demonstrated that he is the modern day St Luke of Taylor Caldwell’s “Great and Glorious Physician.” He is the Healer the Church so desperately needed at this time. He has reached out to so many excluded groups, including, gays and lesbians, divorced Catholics, and others.
         Nine months, as of this Friday, Francis has shown a gift so rare in the modern Catholic Church: the ability to be brave enough to say: “Who am I to judge?” For Catholics, Francis has made a huge leap of faith to show the values of the Church need to be improved upon and even changed.
         As a “Cafeteria Catholic” who has personal, doctrinal issues with the Church, I welcome the steps Francis has made thus far. The major issues, birth control, celibacy, divorce, etc, still need to be addressed, but as an old Chinese saying goes, “The journey of 1,000 miles begins with the first step.”
          Folks, this Pope has taken several steps already and for that, Francis certainly deserves to be Time’s Person of the Year. Deus benedicte! God bless!


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