By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

We have a pope


Well, of course it was marketing. That’s my response to the complaints that burst forth on Wednesday when we learned that Pope Francis had been chosen as Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” rather than NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

But I think Time made the right call journalistically, too. The Snowden revelations have had an enormous effect on the way we think about government secrecy. But Francis is a larger, more forward-looking choice. His early papacy has been fascinating, even if his pronouncements on matters such as abortion and homosexuality have been more about atmospherics than substance.

As a non-Catholic and non-Christian, I find myself wanting to know more about Francis — and where he intends to lead the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. For all his progressive-sounding rhetoric (my favorite: “How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?”), it’s his recently announced initiative on the church’s child-rape crisis that will determine the fate of his papacy — and perhaps of the institution that he heads.

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  1. Aaron Read

    Perhaps more telling will be his willingness to crack the whip and get dissenters like Providence Bishop Michael Tobin to fall in line.

  2. Aaron Read

    To expound a bit: it’s one thing to announce new initiatives, but the really major goal would be to change the culture of a church shaped by decades of influence (and papal appointments) by John Paul II.

  3. Bob Brosseau

    Francis is trying to turn the Titanic. (You can take that metaphor any number of ways). To do so even to a small degree will require time and to judge him on six months of effort is unfair. I don’t argue his selection, but I’d have liked it to be because of changes he implemented rather than a sense of optimism or his not living the grand style of previous Popes.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Bob: I think it’s just the old media rule that it’s better to be too early than too late.

  4. Laurence Glavin

    Is there anything less newsworthy than a meaningless PR stunt by a declining publication? The ABC Television Network picks a “Person of the Week”; 21st Fox Entertainment’s Fake “News” Channel has a “Power Player of the Week” on its fourth-ranked Sunday morning talking-heads show (BTW, the former NewsCorp has metamorphosed into a print publisher AND a separate mostly entertainment-focused entity called 21st Century Fox). Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” shtick jumped the shark when they named “YOU” as “PotY”. The put a strip of reflecting aluminium on the cover, a step that was supposed to be all-inclusive but discriminated against vampires.

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