(Photo: REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi)
Pope Francis has been named "Man of the Year" by the July Italian edition of pop-culture magazine Vanity Fair. He even received praise as a "miracle of humility" from openly gay English singer Sir Elton John, who expressed hopes that the Vatican leader could reach out to people with HIV and AIDS.
"The Pope has only been in office for little more than a hundred days and he has already come top of the list of world leaders who have made history. But the revolution continues," wrote Vanity Fair.
Francis has proven to be a popular leader since being elected by the Roman Catholic Church earlier this year to replace the retired Pope Benedict XVI. Much like his time as archbishop of Buenos Aires in Argentina, the pontiff has chosen to live modestly, turning down many of the luxuries afforded to popes.
The magazine interviewed several people, including Elton John, about their views on Francis.
"Francis is a miracle of humility in the era of vanity," said John, who has expressed highly critical views of organized religion before. He added that he hopes that the pope will be able to bring his message "to the most marginalized in society, to those communities which, at this time of their lives, they desperately need your love."
John called upon the Catholic Church to turn back to "the ancient values of Christ" and reach out to the many children, women and men who are suffering from HIV and AIDS – "often alone, and hidden by the silence – his beacon of hope will bring more light than any advancement of science, because no drug has the power of love."
Francis' humility has been apparent since the day he was elected. Most recently, Pope Francis reportedly asked the Cathedral of Buenos Aires to remove a statue in his honor that was erected there 10 days ago, according to The Vatican Insider. And in June, Francis decided not to show up for a concert where he was expected to be the guest of honor, with some observing that his message was that he will not indulge in lavish events.
Last week, the pontiff released his first encyclical on theological thoughts which was co-written with Benedict XVI, called "Lumen Fidei" or "The Light of Faith." In the document, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church argued that faith without truth is an illusion, while truth without love is cold and oppressive.
"Absorbed and deepened in the family, faith becomes a light capable of illumining all our relationships in society. As an experience of the mercy of God the Father, it sets us on the path of brotherhood," Pope Francis wrote.