Happy birthday to Pope Francis, who has once again been named 'Person of the Year', this time by a leading lifestyle magazine that actively promotes gay rights.
The religious leader is the December coverstar of The Advocate magazine, on which he appears with a photoshopped tattoo on his cheek, spelling out the message “NO H8”.
On the right of his portrait shot is the quote that earned him the title, which he delivered during an interview with reporters in July on his way from Brazil to Rome.
He said: “If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?”
However, the pontiff’s history of supporting gay rights hasn’t always been so revolutionary. For example, he stridently opposes same-sex marriage and fought against laws being passed to allow it when he was the archbishop of Buenos Aires.
“Let’s not be naïve: This is not a simple political struggle, but an attempt to destroy God’s plan,” he said in Argentina of same-sex marriage in 2010. “It is not just a bill but a move of the Father of Lies, who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”
Nonetheless, he was still picked over Edie Windsor of the US Supreme Court’s DOMA case, whom the magazine refers to as “a hero to LGBT Americans for taking the final punch in the fight against the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act…”
On their decision to crown him their ultimate ‘Person’ of 2013, The Advocate said in a statement:
“Pope Francis is leader of 1.2 billion Roman Catholics all over the world. There are three times as many Catholics in the world than there are citizens in the United States. Like it or not, what he says makes a difference.
“Sure, we all know Catholics who fudge on the religion's rules about morality. There's a lot of disagreement, about the role of women, about contraception, and more. But none of that should lead us to underestimate any pope's capacity for persuading hearts and minds in opening to LGBT people, and not only in the U.S. but globally…
“Francis's view on how the Catholic Church should approach LGBT people was best explained in his own words during an in-depth interview with America magazine in September. He recalled, ‘A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person? We must always consider the person.’
“In this statement, however, as some bishops have explained, Pope Francis was simply reinforcing what has always been the teaching of the Church: that all persons are to be treated with dignity and respect.”
The magazine goes on to paint a picture of just how sharply contrasting Paul Francis is compared to his predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, the former of which became Pope when then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was openly declaring homosexuality to be “intrinsically evil”.
The title is the second awarded to Pope Francis in 2013. Just last week, TIME magazine named the pontiff their ‘Person of the Year’. He beat the likes of whistleblower Edward Snowden, Miley Cyrus and Barack Obama, among others, to win the prestigious honour.
In other news, Pope Francis was forced to defend his economic and social ideologies after prominent conservatives accused him of coming forward with “pure Marxism”.
Speaking to an Italian newspaper yesterday, the pope described Marxism as “wrong”, but refused to condemn people who hold left-wing views.
The comments came after the Pontiff railed against the “new tyranny” of unfettered capitalism in an 84-page document published last month.
The “apostolic exhortation” sets out the terms by which a pope intends to run the Catholic Church – yet it was slammed by the outspoken conservative US talk show host Rush Limbaugh.
Video: Pope Francis named 'Person Of The Year'