(WASHINGTON POST) The iconic red border of Time magazine will frame Pope Francis as its 2013 Person of the Year, the magazine announced Wednesday morning. By the judgement of Time’s editorial staff, the pope–elected earlier this year after a surprise resignation by predecessor Pope Benedict–was the most influential global newsmaker of the past 12 months. Earlier this week, Time narrowed the finalists down to 10, then five. Pope Francis ultimately won out over NSA leaker Edward Snowden, Syrian president Bashar Assad, Texas senator Ted Cruz and gay rights activist Edith Windsor.
“[W]hat makes this Pope so important is the speed with which he has captured the imaginations of millions who had given up on hoping for the church at all,” Howard Chua-Eoan and Elizabeth Dias write in the cover story. “In a matter of months, Francis has elevated the healing mission of the church.”
The magazine first released such a cover in 1927 under the name “Man of the Year,” and conferred the title on Charles Lindbergh for his solo trans-Atlantic flight. Since then, the annual covers have featured global peacemakers, U.S. presidents, tech billionaires, dictators and more amorphous concepts, like “the protestor” and “the endangered earth.” The editors’ intention is not to praise the figures selected, but to acknowledge their influence in shaping the news and history of the outgoing year. (Hence why Adolph Hitler made the cover in 1938.)