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Pope Francis Named Time Magazine Person of the Year

Other finalists include Ted Cruz, Edward Snowden and Edith Windsor.

Pope Francis has been named Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year.”

The spiritual leader has been hailed as a liberalizing influence on Catholicism with his emphasis on easing global poverty and his more progressive views on hot-button social issues such as gay rights. The announcement came from Nancy Gibbs, Time’s managing editor, on “Today.”

“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,” Gibbs said in a statement. “In his nine months in office, he has placed himself at the very center of the central conversations of our time: about wealth and poverty, fairness and justice, transparency, modernity, globalization, the role of women, the nature of marriage, the temptations of power.”

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Gibbs went on to praise Francis “For pulling the papacy out of the palace and into the streets.”

This is the second time that Time has named a head of the Catholic Church as its “Person of the Year.” In 1994, Pope John Paul II was designated the most influential person.

The top five finalists for the honor included Tea Party favorite Sen. Ted Cruz, Syrian President Bashar Assad, gay rights activist Edith Windsor, and NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

Other contenders included twerking pop star Miley Cyrus, freshly minted Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos and President Barack Obama.

Recent Time honoree’s include last year’s winner President Obama, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

The Dec. 16, 2013 “Person of the Year” will hit news stands on Friday.