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Posted: December 17, 2013

Pope Francis named gay magazine's 'Person of the Year'


Special Section: Pope Francis
Pope Francis waves as he leaves after his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013. Time magazine selected Pope Francis as its Person of the Year on Wednesday, saying the Catholic Church's new leader has changed the perception of the 2,000-year-old institution in an extraordinary way in a short time. The pope beat out NSA leaker Edward Snowden for the distinction, which the newsmagazine has been giving each year since 1927. The former Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected in March as the first pope from Latin America and the first Jesuit. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

By Elizabeth Hagedorn

His Holiness — or shall we call him Mr. Popularity — has done it again. Pope Francis can add another award to his trophy collection.

America’s oldest gay news magazine The Advocate has chosen Francis as its Person of the Year. The mag says he fits the bill as the “single most influential person of 2013 on the lives of LGBT people.”

The magazine goes on to say: “As pope, he has not yet said the Catholic Church supports civil unions. But what Francis does say about LGBT people has already caused reflection and consternation within his church.”

>> Previously: Time names Pope Francis "Person of the Year"

Yes, even though Francis hasn’t officially changed any church policies involving homosexuality, many would argue he’s done much at least to change its tone.

This summer he first raised eyebrows when he responded to a reporter’s question on gay priests saying, "If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?" (Via WFTS)  

>> Read more trending stories  

And in September he said it wasn’t the church’s role to “interfere spiritually” in the lives of gays and lesbians. (Via America

For some perspective, his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, once called homosexuality "intrinsically evil." (Via Wikimedia Commons / Marek Kośniowski)

Still the new pope's departure from the Church’s usual view on gay rights — while noteworthy — may not be all that groundbreaking.

After all, he still opposes same-sex marriage and campaigned against laws allowing it when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires. (Via CTV)

He said of gay marriage in 2010, "Let's not be naive: This is not a simple political struggle, but an attempt to destroy God's plan.” ​(Via The Independent

But as a writer at Americablog notes, his willingness to open a dialogue is a start: “He has toned down the rhetoric, a lot.  And while sometimes rhetoric is “just words,” at other times words can have great power.”  

Now, this is just the latest honor for the new pontiff. Time recently named him its Person of the Year, as well — noting his message of humility and compassion.

And Pope Francis has another reason to celebrate. The honor from the Advocate fell on his 77th birthday — which he spent eating breakfast in the Vatican with the homeless. From this pope, we’d expect nothing less. (Via CBS)

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