Time magazine named Pope Francis its Person of the Year, choosing the new pontiff over former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, gay rights advocate Edith Windsor, Tea Party Sen. Ted Cruz, and Syrian leader Bashar Assad.
Editor-in-chief Nancy Gibbs, calling Francis "something of a rock star," pointed to the media-savvy Francis' sense of timing in attacking the "idolatry of money" as retail's Black Friday approached, as well as a PR savvy that shows in retiring the papal Mercedes for a Ford Focus, and nixing a gilded cross and red shoes for a simple iron cross around his neck.
"When he rejects the pomp and the privilege, releases information on Vatican finances for the first time, reprimands a profligate German Archbishop, cold-calls strangers in distress, offers to baptize the baby of a divorced woman whose married lover wanted her to abort it, he is doing more than modeling mercy and transparency," wrote Gibbs.
Time released a list of 10 finalists for the honor on Dec. 9. Others in the running included Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, singer Miley Cyrus, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
Following his re-election, President Barack Obama last year took home the Time honor, which has drawn a furious lobbying and PR blitz behind-the-scenes in recent years.