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Experts: Pope Francis named Time Magazine Person of the Year

James Bretzke


A Jesuit priest, Fr. Bretzke is a professor of moral theology. He earned his doctorate at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, where he also taught for three years.

Office: 617-552-6514
Cell: 617-775-9665
Faculty webpage


Thomas Groome


Professor Groome is one of America’s foremost experts on the religious training and faith of American Catholics. He can also speak on the general issues of the Catholic Church and society; religion and politics; the papacy; pastoral ministry, spiritual practices. He is the author of several books, including What Makes Us Catholic: Eight Gifts for Life.

Office: 617-552-8449
Cell: 617-875-5325
Faculty webpage


DECEMBER 11, 2013

He’s been the Jesuit agent of change and a religious breath of fresh air; now the efforts and approach of Pope Francis are being noticed once again on the world stage as Time Magazine has named the Pontiff the 2013 Person of the Year.

“Very well deserved - to be honest I can’t think of someone this year more deserving," says Boston College School of Theology and Ministry Professor James Bretzke, S.J. “He really captures people’s imagination with the power of love and the power of really being able to change situations through human efforts and good.”

“This reflects the fact that Pope Francis is now the most powerful symbolic leader in the world - and symbols ultimately are more powerful than armies and nuclear bombs,” says Thomas Groome, professor of theology and religious education at Boston College's School of Theology and Ministry. “He is the most significant person in the world for setting a tone not only in the personal lives and faith of Catholic Christians but for citizens of the world.”

The Pope’s election in March came at a time when the church needed a burst of energy; it got that and much more – a charismatic leader not afraid to push back against accepted norms. The 77-year old has made headlines not only with his primary mission of helping the poor and correcting the economic inequities, but he’s turned heads by not passing judgment on those who are gay, those who have had abortions, or those who divorced.

“I think this selection will make the church more effective in its central mission which is to preach the gospel message of forgiveness and reconciliation and hope for everyone,” says Fr. Bretzke, an expert on papal affairs.”I think that is what Pope Francis has been trying to do over and over again in ways big, medium and small. So I think this is a good way of underscoring that his approach in fact has been effective, has been noted and this will certainly do a lot I think to minimize the very few voices, strident though they are, of his critics.”

Pope Francis, known as the People’s Pope, has offered hope and inspiration while changing the way we think about this 2,000-year-old institution.

“He’s setting a tone of mercy and compassion, inclusion and care for the poor,” says Professor Groome, author of seven books on the Catholic faith including Language for a "Catholic" Church and Sharing Faith: A Comprehensive Approach to Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry. “And he’s fighting back, pushing back against the profit motive that’s invested solely for profit without attention to the conditions of the workers and a fair wage for everybody, decent healthcare.”


Media Note:

Contact information for additional Boston College faculty sources on a range of subjects is available at: /offices/pubaf/journalist/experts.html


Sean Hennessey

Associate Director

Office of News and Public Affairs

Boston College

(617) 552-3630 (office)

(617) 943-4323 (cell)