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Vatican hails Time's honour for pope

World is listening to the pontiff's message, says Vatican

11 December, 14:42
Vatican hails Time's honour for pope (See related) (ANSA) - Vatican City, December 11 - The decision by Time magazine to name Pope Francis as its Person of the Year is a "positive sign" that indicates the world is hearing the new pontiff's message, the Vatican's official spokesman said Wednesday.

Father Federico Lombardi spoke shortly after the United States-based magazine announced that Francis, elected in March, would succeed last year's Time honoree, US President Barack Obama.

"It's a positive sign that one of the most prestigious awards in the field of the international press is attributed to (one who) promotes spiritual, religious and moral values in the world and speaks effectively to promote peace and greater justice," said Lombardi.

He added that Francis did not "seek fame" but he would "welcome" the announcement if it meant that his message "attracts men and women and gives them hope".

The Vatican press office noted that Francis is the third pope to be named as a Person of the Year by Time magazine. In 1962, the award was given to John XXIII and in 1994 to Pope John Paul II.

Elected in March after the shocking resignation of Benedict XVI, the former archbishop of Buenos Aires has been widely hailed as ushering in a new era of Vatican reform while winning countless fans with his humility and man-of-the-people touch. Francis beat four others who made Time's shortlist: NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, American Senator and Tea Party Republican Ted Cruz, and Edith Windsor, an 84-year-old widow who won her suit against the American government for not recognizing her marriage to another woman, bringing an end to the US ban on gay marriage.