Catholic pundits react to selection of Pope as “Person of the Year”

Here are a few reactions from some Catholic thinkers about Time magazine’s decision to select Pope Francis as Person of the Year.

Francis-POYFr. Dwight Longenecker:

The Time magazine writers reflect the sentimental spirit of the age: that there is nothing important about doctrine and discipline, but everything important about being nice and friendly. That Christians are often perceived as being legalistic, harsh and exclusive cannot be denied, but it is in the interests of the enemies of the Christian faith to exaggerate the alleged harshness of Pope Benedict XVI and Bl. Pope John Paul II while downplaying the tough words of Pope Francis.


John Allen, Jr.:

There will be probably be a degree of blowback to the award in some Catholic circles among believers who get nervous when the world seems overly positive about the church. Their question always is, Do they really understand what we’re saying? Of course there’s a risk of simplification or caricature when the culture of celebrity takes over perceptions of religious leaders. That said, the question is which problem Catholics would wish their pope to have: deciding what to do with the world’s interest or struggling to acquire it in the first place? Most people would probably say that all things being equal, the first problem is by far the better one to have.

John Moody:

His public gestures – kissing disfigured visitors to the Vatican, lofting newborns with the endearing awkwardness of a non-parent, washing the feet of prisoners – may have been carefully staged, but they reveal the genuine character beneath the flowing white robes: Francis wants his church to serve, not strut. He has made his concern for the poor – and hailing from Latin America, Jo knows po’ – his keystone and, predictably, paid the price of being misconstrued. In Evangelii Gaudium, his first solo papal exhortation, Francis was widely quoted as deriding capitalist economies. Yet his complaint, a close reading would reveal, is that the pursuit of wealth, in and for itself, has become a competing religion. What parent in the now-infamous 1%, would not counsel his or her child that having money alone is not proof of success, but using it wisely is?

Steven Greydanus:

The world is gaga now over Pope Francis in part for of who he is, but it’s also the Obama Effect, ie, he ISN’T the last guy who had the job. Like Bush 43, Pope Benedict was so hated that people are projecting their wishful hopes for an anti-B onto his successor, facts be damned. Eventually, though, the world will get to know Francis, as it has Obama…and, for very different reasons, the honeymoon will be over.


Categories:Media Pope Francis

  • James howe

    why do people expend so much time searching for reasons to disapprove. I’m sure everyone has events in their lives they would like to forget. I for one have reconciled with the lord more the I should. People and Like wise the Pope follow the dictates placed upon their heart. I choose to see the good they do ,I choose to walk in the sunshine and see all the God given gifts the pope and gods people bring to the table. If we make no place for evil to dwell then fear and distrust is diminished

  • Jesse Wilson

    Steven Greydanus:: What in the world are you talking about?

  • bo_leggs

    Pope Benedict hated??? Well, maybe by the “progressive”, aka liberal, Catholics, but certainly not by practicing Catholics.

    • Joshua Mercer

      Steven Greydanus was saying that the media believed that “everyone hated Benedict.” He does not share that sentiment. In fact, Steven Greydanus loves Pope Benedict, and hated this media mischaracterization.

      • Jesse Wilson

        How do you know what Greydanus means? The poorly written comment by Greydanus was childish at best. Liberals do want to tear-down all that good and right and Greydanus sounds like a liberal to me.

        • Joshua Mercer

          Steven is one of my favorite writers. I’ve read just about everything he’s written. I can assure you that is a faithful Catholic, but you don’t have to take my word for it. Feel free to Google his name. His work for National Catholic Register and Our Sunday Visitor certainly speaks for itself.

          The snippet I posted of him came from Twitter, where you are limited to 140 characters. So his comments were made in the course of three tweets. I thought that they were clear, but clearly they were misinterpreted. He had also posted his thoughts (in longer form) on his Facebook page. And those comments explain even more clearly that Greydanus is slamming the media NOT Pope Benedict. Here is his Facebook comments on the selection of Pope Francis as Person of the Year:

          “With TIME naming Pope Francis their 2013 Person of the Year, it occurs to me that the world happens to be gaga over Pope Francis right now in part because of who he is and what he does, yes, but also in part because of what could be called the Obama Effect. That is to say, he’s someone OTHER THAN the very unpopular last guy who held the office. Also, he came into office as a comparative unknown, onto whom haters of the previous office holder could project their wishful hopes for an “anti-B.” To that extent, Time’s POTY award is a little like Obama’s Nobel Prize: It’s the world’s way, at least partly, of saying “Hey, please be the guy we really want you to be after that last guy!” In time, though, the world will come to know Francis, as they have Obama…and, for very different reasons, the honeymoon will be over.”

          I’m sorry if my parsing of his words lead to confusion, as that was not my intention at all.

  • Bonnie

    Very negative. Disappointing. Are all “Catholic thinkers” unable to understand that kindness, forgiveness, and love are essential to the doctrine and discipline of our precious Catholic church?

    “Everybody hated Pope Benedict?” Pure nonsense.

    • Joshua Mercer

      Steven Greydanus was suggesting that the media’s narrative was that “Everyone hated Benedict.” He does not share that sentiment. In fact, Steven Greydanus loves Pope Benedict and hated this media mischaracterization.

  • Nancy Janzen

    John Moody should look back at Benedict and John Paul I have pictures in my living room of both of them awkwardly kissing babies. I just wish this would mean someone would read Pope Francis instead of the NYT condensed version.


    Pope Francis is naïve and he is playing right into the hands of the Socialists of the world who normally would have an intense dislike of the papacy but feel that this is a pope whom they can use to their advantage. He is a social Liberal almost to the extent of being a Socialist himself. He probably means well, but he should beware of those who will seek to get close to him for their own devious reasons, both inside and outside of the Church.

    • Matt

      Pope Francis, does appear to be a social liberal in a lot of respects. But I wouldn’t call him naive. He truly believes in the merits of a more equal system for everyone, and a little bit of socialism will go a long way in addressing the wealth inequality issues that he constantly talks about.

    • Bonnie

      Pope Francis doesn’t concern himself with what people think of him. He is living the Gospel, sharing the Gospel – to anyone and everyone. He is showing us what the unconditional love of the Father looks like. He is guided by spirituality, not by secular politics. Political labels just do not apply.



Receive our updates via email.