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Las Cruces bishop weighs in on Time magazine selection
By: Gina Benitez
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Time magazine selected Pope Francis as its Person of the Year on Wednesday, saying the Catholic Church's new leader has changed the perception of the 2,000-year-old institution in an extraordinary way in a short time.
Las Cruces Bishop Oscar Cantu told KFOX 14 the Pope isn't just preaching the teachings of Jesus Christ, but living them.
"That speaks volumes not only to us Catholics but to the world," Cantu said.
Cantu also said Francis has focused much of his attention on a group of people who are becoming more and more invisible: the poor.
"He has really challenged priests and bishops alike to rethink how we present ourselves to our parishioners. And to be more available, to open doors literally and figuratively," said Cantu.
The pope is a man of many firsts: the first non-European pope in the modern era; the first pontiff from South America; and the first Jesuit to be elected head of the Roman Catholic Church.
The pope beat out NSA leaker Edward Snowden for the distinction, which the news magazine has been giving each year since 1927.
His appearances draw tens of thousands of people and his @Pontifex Twitter account recently topped 10 million followers.
Time editors make the selection. The magazine polled readers for their choice, and the winner was Egyptian General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who didn't even make the top 10 of Time's final list.
Pope Francis has been at the helm of the Catholic Church for just a few short months.
In that time, he has managed to change perception by urging the church to practice compassion when it comes to dealing with hot button issues like abortion, gays and birth control.
"I do know that he's more liberal and has a lot of new ideas that other Popes haven't had in the past. So I do think it's a good step in the right direction," said Summer Steele of West El Paso.
A report by latino.foxnews.com recently revealed a decline in attendance for mass on Sunday's.
Cantu said what the Pope is doing isn't a publicity stunt.
"I'm sure the intention of Pope Francis is not to get more warm bodies in the door of the church. It's that the church be more authentic and faithful to the gospel," Cantu said.