Two men gave remarkable testimonies of faith to the world during 2013: Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned his office on February 28, and Pope Francis, who was elected to be his successor on March 13.
Pope Benedict, in his courageous decision to step down, taken after a long period of meditation and reflection, gave an example to all those who face profoundly difficult situations, and must find a way to choose the best path forward.
And Pope Francis, in the courageous way he has taken on the weight of the papal office, focusing the world’s attention, even against its will, on the Church and on the message of Christ, has given an example to all of humility, of love, and of daring.
For these reasons, these two men must be considered, truly, the “Men of the Year” for 2013.
Yet the choice of Francis as the “Person of the Year” is so obvious that even Time magazine (and other journals), have made that choice.
The choice of Pope Benedict is less obvious, but clearly all that happened during the past year, all of the words and actions of Pope Francis, depended on Pope Benedict’s revolutionary, unprecedented action.
So we at Inside the Vatican choose both Pope Benedict and Pope Francis as our pre-eminent “Persons of the Year” for 2013.
And we then choose 10 other men and women to fill out our list of the “Top Ten People” for 2013.
At his general audience on October 16, Pope Francis asked the crowd: “Are we missionaries by our words, and especially by our Christian life, by our witness? Or are we Christians closed in our hearts and in our churches: ‘sacristy Christians’?”
This focus of Pope Francis has been celebrated as a departure from Pope Benedict’s focus. But in fact both Popes have always insisted that being an authentic Christian isn’t simply about one’s private prayer life; it must be evident in the way a person interacts with others and with the world.
A month before he stepped down, Pope Benedict said that believing in God “makes us harbingers of values that often do not coincide with the fashion and opinion of the moment. It requires us to adopt criteria and assume forms of conduct that are not part of the common mindset. Christians must not be afraid to go ‘against the current’ in order to live their faith, resisting the temptation to conform.”
Pope Francis, in a Year of Faith talk in April, said, “Being Christian is not just about obeying orders, but means being in Christ, thinking like Him, acting like Him, loving like Him; it means letting him take possession of our life and change it, transform it and free it from the darkness of evil and sin. This is a precious service that we must give to this world of ours which all too often no longer succeeds in raising its gaze on high, no longer succeeds in raising its gaze to God.”
Top Ten People of 2013
Witnesses Throughout the Earth
There are millions of Christians throughout the world who give courageous witness with their lives to their faith in Christ. Choosing to recognize ten among these many is of course, inevitably, partial, and superficial. And yet, we feel there is a value in focusing on a small number of remarkable people, whose witness can instruct and inspire us. It is in this spirit that we present to our readers our choices for the “Top Ten” people of 2013.
Patriarch Sako of Baghdad
Patriarch of the long-suffering Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq
Sister Antonietta Colacchi
Director of the Dispensary of the Domus Sanctae Marthae in Vatican City, which gives medical care to the poor
Bishop Athanasius Schneider
Archbishop of Astana, Kazakhstan, who is the greatest defender in the world today of the Sacrament of Communion
Bishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk
Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, a key player in Christian ecumenism worldwide
An American lawyer, founder and head of “Women’s Rights Without Frontiers,” who has fought against China’s one-child policy
Bishop Thaddeus Daquin Ma
Auxiliary Bishop of Shanghai, China, under house arrest since July 7, 2012, for his loyalty to the Pope
Patriarch Laham of Syria
Patriarch of Antioch, Syria, one of the great defenders of Christians in the Middle East
A parish priest in Buenos Aires, Argentina, who works with drug addicts at the risk of his own life
A Croatian laywoman who heads a group called “In the Name of the Family” in defense of traditional marriage
Dr. Gordon Neufeld
A Canadian developmental pyschologist whose writings have helped millions of parents strengthen their ties with their children.