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Person of the Year, pope for our era

As Time magazine's Person of the Year, Pope Francis has defined his mission of reform, rehabilitation and healing.
Pope Francis attends his weekly general audience at St. Peter's Square at the Vatican December 11, 2013.  REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito  (VATICAN - Tags: RELIGION) - RTX16DQB

Time magazine's choice of Pope Francis as the Person of the Year is a testimony to a person who has made healing his principal priority.

Pope Francis defined the church as a "field hospital” and his message to the Vatican bureaucrats and clergy was: “Don’t just preach; listen. Don’t scold; heal.”

These admonitions reveal his intent not only to reform and rehabilitate but also humanize.

In the first nine months of his papacy, Pope Francis brought what appeared to be complex to simple understanding. For example, his denouncement of trickle-down economics shows the priority of his commitment to the empowerment of the world's poor.

Pope Francis confronted taboos about abortion and same-sex marriages, in a compassionate manner for their condition to be understood, perhaps treated, but not instantly condemned. In many ways, he did not want any human being to be excluded from his ennobling concerns.

It is clear that Pope Francis seeks to persuade rather than dictate. The spontaneity by which he addresses ongoing emerging issues is where his power guides and inspires.

Choosing him as the Person of the Year in the context of the remembrance of Nelson Mandela’s life can provide for the world community the opportunity to heal many wounds, to assert that noble objectives cannot be accomplished except by the authenticity and nobility of their means.

The convergence of celebrating the life of Mandela last week and at the same time having Pope Francis celebrated at this moment as the Person of the Year provides the climate that hopefully will facilitate reconciliation and healing of physical and moral wounds that have proliferated for the last few decades.

Perhaps when we wish each other season's greetings and a happy New Year, it becomes more possible that the “pursuit of happiness” might replace or at least reduce the agony of conflicts and wars that much of the world is experiencing at this time.

Happy New Year!

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