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Catholic Education Daily


Paying Attention to Pope Francis: Time Magazine’s ‘Person of the Year’

Cardinal Newman Society board member Kathryn Jean Lopez wrote that “while the media has a lot to learn about the Catholic Church, people have a lot to learn about the Gospels,” in a commentary at National Review Online.

The commentary comes in response to the recent Time magazine announcement that Pope Francis is their choice as the “Person of the Year”—or as Lopez suggests, the “Man of the Year (since he, well, is one).”

Lopez, who is also the director of Catholic Voices USA, wrote that Pope Francis may have been chosen because “people think they are drawn to him” while really it’s all about Christ. She explained, “[I]t’s Christ [Pope Francis] sees in the disfigured man and the drug addict and every man and woman he encounters. That’s what he’s clearly called to model to the world at this time.”

She also takes issue with some of the misperceptions contained in Time’s online poll for the recognition, where Pope Francis was described as having rejected Church dogma. That misrepresentation was corrected by the editorial, but Lopez believes that “there are other things to take issue with in the write-up.”

However, Lopez believes that the choice of Pope Francis points to at least one remarkable fact: news outlets are even paying attention to the Holy Father.  She stated:

The same media outlets that a year ago considered the Catholic Church irrelevant are now listening. They’re getting it incredibly wrong, latching onto convenient sound bytes, loading them with their ideological biases. But they are paying attention. And with prayer and effort, miracles might just happen.

Time does detail some of the Pope’s background, and praises the Holy Father for his ability to practice humility from a position of authority and for his message of healing and forgiveness. 

It’s the responsibility of Christians to be living witnesses to the faith, and to show the world the mercy of Christ, according to Lopez.

“When Christians aren’t Christian, Christ isn’t seen as much as He could be were we authentic about what we profess,” Lopez said. “You are drawn to making sure people know they are loved, because you know you are, by the Creator of the world. That’s what Pope Francis is about.”

The magazine relates how Pope Francis’ vision of a “pastoral” Church, which embraces the “poor, spiritually broken and lonely” are detailed in his recent apostolic exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium” or “The Joy of the Gospel.”

The apostolic exhortation also included Pope Francis’ first major statements as Pope regarding Catholic education.  He identified education as one possible solution to secularization, and praises Catholic schools and colleges for their contributions around the world.  Yet he acknowledges that those contributions are often not appreciated when they are countercultural, as it is often necessary to remain faithful to Catholic teaching.

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