Pope star

Pope star
Pope Francis

UNITIED STATES - Time magazine, which named Pope Francis its Person of the Year, calls him a "septuagenarian superstar" and said "he makes masterly use of 21st century tools to perform his 1st century office".

"What makes this Pope so important is the speed with which he has captured the imaginations of millions who had given up on hoping for the Church at all," the magazine said.

The first Jesuit pontiff emerged victorious from a shortlist including pop music's twerker-in-chief Miley Cyrus, Syria's civil war-waging leader Bashar al-Assad and US National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Explaining the award, the magazine wrote: "Rarely has a new player on the world stage captured so much attention so quickly - young and old, faithful and cynical - as has Pope Francis.

"In his nine months in office, he has placed himself at the very centre of the central conversations of our time: about wealth and poverty, fairness and justice, transparency, modernity, globalisation, the role of women, the nature of marriage, the temptations of power."

The magazine said the prestigious award, which has run since 1927, aims to recognise "the person or thing that had the greatest impact on the news, for good or ill".

Former winners include Adolf Hitler (in 1938), Joseph Stalin (twice, in 1939 and 1942) and the UK's Queen Elizabeth II (after acceding to the throne in 1952).

Pope John Paul II was named Person of the Year in 1994.

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