Despite a strong challenge from Miley Cyrus and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Pope Francis has been named Time magazine’s 2013 Person of the Year.
The 76-year-old Argentinean newly elected pontiff who’s made headlines for his humility, nicknamed “The People’s Pope,” was the individual Time editors decided had the most impact on the world and the news — for better or worse — over the past year.
In explaining the magazine’s choice on Wednesday’s Today, Time managing editor Nancy Gibbs said the pope is “someone who has changed the tone and perception and focus of one of the world’s largest institutions in an extraordinary way.
“So much of what he has done in his brief nine months in office has really changed the tone that is coming out of the Vatican,” Gibbs added. “He is saying, ‘We are about the healing mission of the church, and not about the theological police work that had maybe been preoccupying us.’ ”
Francis is the third pope to be awarded Time‘s Person of the Year honor. Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said in a statement read on Today that “the Holy Father is not looking to become famous or to receive honors. But if the choice of Person of Year helps spread the message of the gospel — a message of God’s love for everyone — he will certainly be happy about that.”
NSA leaker Edward Snowden ranked second on Time‘s list, but some are saying that he should have received the top spot. Other runners-up included gay rights activist Edith Windsor, whose Supreme Court victory led to the demise of the Defense of Marriage Act, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
Cyrus and Bezos both made Time‘s shortlist, revealed on Monday’s Today, as did 2012 winner President Barack Obama, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.