Pope Francis Makes Forbes World's Most Powerful People 2013 List: 6 Reasons Why He Deserves It

Pope Francis leads mass at the Sistine Chapel in March 2013.
Image Reuters

Pope Francis has hardly been the Pope for a year and he has already been ranked #4 on the annual Forbes' Most Powerful People list. The 76-year-old Argentinian represents the Roman Catholic Church. Making the list, let alone a top five ranking, is no small feat. The list features 72 individuals--one individual for every 100 million people on the planet. The men who rank on the list vary in occupation from financiers, philanthropists, entrepreneurs and heads of states. Does Pope Francis deserve it? We think so!

"The March 2013 election of Pope Francis has breathed new energy into the world's largest religion with 1.2 billion followers," wrote Forbes. "The first Jesuit and Latin American Bishop of Rome preaches compassion for the poor and a greater role for women while signaling the church to quiet its focus on "only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptives." He has embraced social media, regularly using Twitter to dispense religious advice to his 3-plus million followers and is responsible for the world's first papal "selfie." Born in Buenos Aires as one of five children to an Italian immigrant railway worker, Pope Francis (né Jorge Mario Bergoglio) cheers Argentina's San Lorenzo de Almagro soccer club."

Here are six reasons why Pope Francis deserves to make the Forbes list: 1. The Pope has more progressive views on same sex rights. "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?" said Pope Francis in a news conference aboard the papal plane while flying back to Rome from Brazil, where he celebrated World Youth Day. "There's a lot of talk about the gay lobby, but I've never seen it on the Vatican ID card! When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby. If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them? They shouldn't be marginalized. The tendency (to homosexuality) is not the problem ... they're our brothers." 2. He wants to expand the role of women in the church. "The feminine genius is needed wherever we make important decisions," said Pope Francis to Jesuit priest Fr. Antonio Spadaro, who conducted the interview for La Civilta Cattolica. "The challenge today is this: to think about the specific place of women also in those places where the authority of the church is exercised."

3. The Pope joined Twitter. Pope Francis has embraced social media by making his presence known on Twitter. "What's new about this announcement is the migration onto Twitter, and to say that's it's possible to follow these events in Brazil on World Youth Day through an electronic medium rather than going there yourself," said Patrick Hornbeck, chair of the department of Theology at the University of Fordham in New York. 4. The Pope is open-minded about heaven and has said that non-believers can go to heaven too! "The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord," he said, "and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart, do good and do not do evil. All of us. 'But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.' Yes, he can... The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ, all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! 'Father, the atheists?' Even the atheists. Everyone!"

5. The Pope is down to Earth. Modesty is a virtue people admire in many, and that's exactly what we have with Pope Francis. The Pope has proven his down to Earth nature on several occasions, whether it is inviting a young boy with Down Syndrome to ride the 'popemobile' or more recently, when a young boy joined the Pope on stage, he sat the child down on his chair and continued with his speech. 6. He doesn't want to interfere. The pope revealed in an interview with Rome-based Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica that he wants to unify the people of the world and does not want to spiritually interfere with other people's lives. "We have to find a new balance, otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel," Francis said in the interview. "The church has sometimes locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules. The people of God want pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials."

What do you think?
Susmita Baral

Susmita Baral joined Latin Times in April 2013. Her work has been published in VICE, Weight Watchers Magazine, Unique Homes Magazine, US Airways Magazine, Vista Magazine, Daily Glow and Kaplan. She holds a B.A. Psychology from Rutgers University. A self-proclaimed foodie, Susmita is a freelance list maker, part-time Shaq devotee, and a full-time eyeliner junkie who believes mac and cheese is a birthright.