Pope Francis, Saudi Blogger Raif Badawi Sentenced to 1,000 Lashes for 'Insulting Islam' Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

Pope Francis waves from the popemobile after leading a Mass at Rizal Park in Manila January 18, 2015. Huge crowds converged on a Manila park on Sunday to see Pope Francis wrap up his Asian trip with an outdoor Mass expected to draw one of the largest crowds in Philippine history. | (Photo: Reuters/Cheryl Ravelo)

The head of the Roman Catholic Church has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, sharing consideration with a group including an anti-Putin Russian newspaper and a Saudi Arabian blogger.

While the Norwegian Nobel Institute does not publish an official list of nominees, Norwegian experts who can nominee do drop names, according to Alister Doyle of Reuters.

"Pope Francis has been nominated for stressing social justice and care for the environment, and former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked details of U.S. electronic surveillance, for showing how citizens are monitored with few democratic controls," reported Doyle.

"Thousands of people, including all members of parliaments, can make nominations, which must be postmarked no later than Feb. 1. The $1.2 million award will be announced in October."

Since being consecrated pope in 2013, Francis has created much attention for the Catholic Church and even the occasional controversy.

Due to his global influential appeal and apparent change of course for the Church, Francis was named Time magazine's Person of the Year for 2013.

In their December 2013 write-up on the award, Time's Howard Chua-Eoan and Elizabeth Dias called Francis "The People's Pope."

"He took the name of a humble saint and then called for a church of healing," wrote Chua-Eoan and Dias regarding Francis.

"The first non-European pope in 1,200 years is poised to transform a place that measures change by the century."

This isn't the only time the first Latin American pontiff in history has been considered for the prestigious honor.

Last year, it was widely speculated that the pontiff was going to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for reasons akin to his current consideration.

However, the Peace Prize instead was shared by teenager Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan and Kailash Satyarthi, aged 60, of India.

Regarding the snub, Elizabeth Dias wrote last October that Francis likely "wouldn't have wanted the Nobel Peace Prize."

"Part of the current Holy Father's global appeal is that he shies away from accolades," continued Dias in the October column for Time.

"He has his eyes on a bigger prize, to quote words of the Apostle Paul, toward the upward call of God."

Another candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize this year is Raif Badawi, a Saudi blogger who operated a blog called "Free Saudi Liberals." Badawi was arrested in 2012 on charges of apostasy, and was sentenced to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashings and a fine of $266,060 for "insulting Islam" in his writings.

"Badawi was nominated along with his fellow citizen, lawyer and human rights activist, Walid Aboul Khair, who's also imprisoned in Saudi Arabia," reported Morocco World News.

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