Should The Pope Be Called Time Magazine's "Person Of The Year"?
I am not quite sure about Time Magazine's criteria for choosing who will be awarded "Person of the Year", but I have this nagging thought that perhaps Pope Francis may have won the award for reasons that may seem just right, but actually, if you think about it, quite disturbing. Perhaps he won because of his increasing popularity?
Although I would like to think that, considering my bias as an atheist, I merely overlook his successes as a new pope who is seen trying to break away from the traditionalist era of Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI. But even Time admits, in the cover article, that the pope's movements haven't affected that much change yet:
And so Francis signals great change while giving the same answers to the uncomfortable questions. On the question of female priests: “We need to work harder to develop a profound theology of the woman.” Which means: no. No to abortion, because an individual life begins at conception. No to gay marriage, because the male-female bond is established by God. “The teaching of the church … is clear,” he has said, “and I am a son of the church, but”—and here he adds his prayer for himself—“it is not necessary to talk about those issues all the time.”I remember a comment made by a Catholic friend when we were talking about this new pope. I remember him saying that a pope should be a "fundamentalist". Apparently, he does not approve of a pope changing traditional beliefs to propel the Catholic Church into the modern times. I asked him if he approved of discrimination against homosexuals and people who use contraceptives. He said the Church should remain fundamental in its stand regarding those issues; but this stand of the Church should only serve as a guideline for its flock. It actually does not make sense to me. But it gave me a glimpse on how Catholics believers may view their institution's leaders: leaders should follow the doctrines to the letter, but us, believers, members of the flock, can just take what we believe in and throw away those that we don't. This is perhaps what Pope Francis is trying to struggle against.
People may talk at length about how Pope Francis is different from his predecessors. But the fact is, he still doesn't want to change anything...not yet. For an outsider like me, the statements were all redressed answers presented to become more palatable to the public and to show a more welcoming face of an institution that has vowed to discriminate those that does not share its beliefs. It is a difficult task, I guess, and perhaps, an impossible task too. And then maybe, this is one reason why Pope Francis is seen as a "Person of the Year" kind of special.
But I would have wanted this woman to be recognized as Time's Person of the Year, instead of Pope Francis.
It's an irony that a pope, the highest leader of an institution that propagates discrimination against homosexuals, would be recognized as a person contributing to world change over someone whose life has been dedicated to fighting for gay people's rights to be treated like any other human being.
Between the two, Edith Windsor has effected more successful changes than a pope who's not changed the stand of the institution he represents. Windsor is now the matriarch of the gay rights movement.
She has accelerated a positive shift that was already taking place. The Supreme Court decision in her case smoothed the way for New Jersey’s high court to legalize gay marriage there in October. The same thing may happen soon in New Mexico. When Windsor’s lawsuit was filed in 2010, gay marriage was legal in five states. Now it is legal in 16.Comparing an ordinary woman who has fought against an institution to fight for her rights, as well as other people's rights to be treated equally and a world leader who already has almost everything at his disposal to remove discrimination, that has resulted from religion itself, from all parts of the world but has not yet done anything, the right choice is so obvious.
Edith Windsor should have been Time's Person of the Year. But hell, Time's just a magazine, anyway. We know better.