The Pope Is Time’s Person Of The Year. In The Long Run, Will He Do More For Us Than Runner-Up Edie WIndsor?

time-person-of-the-year-cover-pope-francisTime magazine has picked Pope Francis as its Person of the Year, which is a bit surprising given that, well, he hasn’t really done that much. (It’s nothing like the storm over the security state that NSA leaker Edward Snowden unleashed.) The magazine’s justification is that Francis represents a lot of potential for change, but it’s his stand on gay issues that really set him apart.

The five words that have come to define both the promise and the limits of Francis’ papacy came in the form of a question: “Who am I to judge?” That was his answer when asked about homo­sexuality by a reporter in July. Many assumed Francis, with those words, was changing church doctrine. Instead, he was merely changing its tone, searching for a pragmatic path to reach the faithful who had been repelled by their church or its emphasis on strict dos and don’ts.

Proving that 2013 was a turning point for LGBT issues, Time named Edie Windsor as a runner-up. “Right now Windsor is the matriarch of the gay movement,” the magazine concludes. “She has accelerated a positive shift that was already taking place.”

Which raises an interesting question: in the long run, who can do more good for the LGBT community? Windsor has secured a place for herself in history that can never be challenged. The pope has spoken a good game so far, but it’s all been rhetoric. Yet, with millions of followers around the world, the pope has a far greater reach and can influence opinion — and behavior — on a massive scale.

But will Francis fulfill that promise? What if he’s just a small incrementalist, who keeps the Church policy on homosexuality but just doesn’t talk about it? Is there partial credit for easing institutional homophobia without eliminating it?

Right now, all we have are the questions. The answers will follow in time. In the meantime, though, Time has honored the pope on the basis of what changes he might make. To use a religious reference, you can’t blame us for being doubting Thomases.

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  • 2eo

    He’s infinitely more likable than the Nazi Youth paedophile protector and paedophile himself Ratzinger.

    However, all the talk in the world means nothing if you refuse to back any of it up. Release the abuse files and allow extradition of those resonsible, pope, then you’ll earn my respect.

  • Jackhoffsky

    Oh good for him. Time magazine. Wow. It’s nice to see he’s finally made it.

  • mike_goodboy

    Don’t be fooled. “Who am I to judge” was taken out of the contex. Francis reffered only to gays who believe (or seek) god and who don’t engage in any sexual/romantic relations with other men. Pope Francis is not an advocate for gay rights in terms of marriage etc. He doesn’t approve gay relationships and he never will.

  • DonW

    It’s just a kinder, gentler image. He seems like a nice guy that you could kick back with a nice cold bottle of communion wine with, but I don’t expect anything of substance to change.

  • Shofixti

    Of course the Pope is not going to change the natural law doctrines of essential heterosexuality.

    When the Pope says, “who am I to judge?” The answer is two-fold.

    You go to a priest in confession to have him judge whether what you have confessed is a sin or is not a sin – it is a categorical judgement. The outcome, the punishment, the consequence etc. of sin is not the priest nor the Pope’s role – given that ultimately judgement belongs to God.

    At best this is the most humble, kind and compassionate way to speak of what is thought of as “intrinsic moral disorder”. But still, can’t help think fondly of papa Francis.

  • Charlie in Charge

    He has done a lot of good thus far, what with his advocating for the poor, going into the world to do real work, and walking the talk about a simpler lifestyle.

  • Teleny

    I like this Pope. I think that he’s already shown himself to be humble and compassionate. I can’t imagine the last one saying anything remotely positive toward gays or riding the bus like this guy did as Cardinal. I also like that he’s criticized economic inequality. Anybody who angers Rush Limbaugh is probably someone that I will like. :)

  • MK Ultra

    Francis and Benedict have the same message, but Francis delivers his with a smile. I guess a smile makes a huge difference. Pretty much what the Catholic church planned for. The fact that so many have bought into this simple PR device of replacing an unlikeable mascot for a likeable one leads me to fear that 2014 will be the worst year for LGBT rights globally, as many countries rush to make gay men public enemy #1 in protest of “western imperialist values”. Religion, including the Catholic church, will be the accuser, judge, jury, and executioner in most of these countries.
    But so many seem to welcome that gleefully because Francis said some pretty words…
    S kazhdym dnjom ya ponimayu Rossiju vso bolshe i bolshe :/ SMH.

  • balehead

    Edie Parker wasn’t just looking for equal rights…she was also looking for money…..

  • Sparkyu1

    The pope has done nothing – and by all indications will continue to do nothing. Making token gestures, saying pretty things while maintaining the bigotry of his church has earned him a vast amount of praise – including this award

    The man is a PR master. His gestures do nothing to combat the bigotry his church champions, yet everyone hails him as a wonderful reformer. He can maintain his bigotry and keep his church’s hate wing happy while at the same time liberals, far too many GBLT people and our “allies” will put him on a pedestal for occasionally saying nice things

    he is “more likeable”. But there’s little actual difference between him and his predecessors.

  • AuntieChrist

    I am not at all religious but I choose to believe that Francis is an okay guy…All the other popes creeped me out big time.

  • TomMc

    He has flustered – indeed, pissed off – NY’s Cardinal Dolan. This pontiff deserves the accolade for that fact alone.

  • glittercomments

    I can respect my fellow gays and lesbians being bitter about mistreatment at the hands of the Catholic Church, I share the sentiment deeply– but I think it is beyond cynical for people to write off this guy right away. He’s saying that “obsessive right-wing Christians have a sickness”! He’s saying focus on doing good and helping the poor not gay marriage. He’s said love gay people and that the Church if it interferes in the spiritual lives of gay pepole has no role to do so. He hasn’t done a 180 in the 8 months he has been pope- but we can expect his theological impressions to be reflected in the cardinals he appoints over the next years of his papacy. Can’t we at least applaud the moves in the right direction?

  • Bill Perdue

    @Bill Perdue: ‘child rapists’

  • MK Ultra

    Personally, I don’t care if my fellow LGBT agree with Pope Francis that homosexuality is an intrinsic disoder and that gays are called to live a life of celibacy. And he’s friendly so it doesn’t matter.
    Whatever damage the Catholic church causes to LGBT around the world, with the FULL support of the LGBT community here (all yall), doesn’t affect me in the slightest.
    I just wish that other homophobic religions/governments/institutions follow Francis’ lead and put up a false friendly front. Because everything is so perfect when everything is a lie. Who wants to hear about crimes against LGBT anyways? More Tom Daley plz. Fo realz, yo.

  • Herlinda S. Osorio

    Bernard answered I’m alarmed that any one can profit $4765 in four weeks on the computer. you can look her>>>

  • Cam

    No, she will do more. People’s opinions change by what they see everyday and because of her millions of people will see and meet gay married couples.

  • Degas

    Pope Francis has gotten Rush Limbaugh’s and Sarah Palin’s panties in a twist, and that is always a good thing.

  • Sparkyu1

    @glittercomments: I think it’s beyond naive to jump on his band wagon before he’s actually done something

    All he’s done is make speeches. When actual discrimination happened – like the Catholic church’s fighting against anti-discrimination laws in Italy which happened a very short time after his much vaunted speech, he was silent. He didn’t life a finger or speak a word

    Why shouldn’t we expect more of the same when all the church has dealt is more of the same? He hasn’t changed anything – he’s just dressed it up nicely. How is it cynical to expect someone to start to change before you believe they’re changing?

  • jwrappaport

    @balehead: If you think that Edie Windsor undertook years of protracted, painful litigation and subjected herself to a lifetime of public scrutiny primarily (or even to a non-trivial extent) for the money, you’re even dumber than you sound – which is quite a concept, I may say.

    That her tax bill was in the six figures means that she stood to inherit an estate far exceeding that. Windsor likely wasn’t hurting for money, and there is no serious argument that she mounted the suit primarily to vindicate her financial interests.

  • DCFarmboi

    I’ll take the Pope over the Log Cabin Republicans, who must hate his pontifical guts.

  • MK Ultra

    @Sparkyu1: Yeah, @glittercomments: comment was so hilariously over the top, overhyperbolic, overenthusiastic fanboydom. I was surprised he didn’t write, “LEAVE FRANCIS ALONE”.
    Earth to planet Homo: This is not the acceptance you’re looking for!
    The catholic church is still against you getting married to the same sex, against you having sex with the same sex, and anti-discrimination laws for you if you identify as anthing other than straight or celibate.
    But who cares about all that anti-gay shiz. He annoys Palin, Limbaugh , and Dolan so he’s our beastie 4eva!!!!!!! <3.

  • TheNewEnergyDude

    The only mystery to why he’s on the cover of Time is how much bribery money they gave to the magazine to put him on the cover. The RCC can go to hell and will never earn my respect.

  • searchcz

    We might consider Pope Francis in a less selfish context, and consider what he might do for all people in general. Why must I directly benefit in order to acknowledge a person who is doing good for others?

  • tom-ba

    Pope Francis is certainly a refreshing contrast with his predecessor.

    But it is Windsor v. United States that will be (has already been) cited in case law.

    And it is case law that decides lawsuits, like the Utah lawsuit that struck down the Utah anti-gay marriage Constitutional amendment.

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