Oklahoma Catholics share sentiments about Time's Person of the Year: Pope Francis

Several Oklahoma City-area Catholic clergy and lay people expressed their thoughts about Pope Francis being named Time magazine's Person of the Year.
by Carla Hinton Published: December 14, 2013

The Rev. Rick Stansberry, pastor of Christ the King Catholic Church, 8005 Dorset Drive, said he was thrilled to learn that Pope Francis became the third pontiff to be named Person of the Year. Pope John XXIII received the recognition in 1964, and Pope John Paul II was selected in 1994.

“I'm very happy because certainly he has brought a new ton of life to the church and a lot of good press,” Stansberry said. “He will change some structure and some things, but I think what appeals to people the most is his humble approach to things. It's a new era we're all getting used to.”

Focus on message

Stansberry said some of the things that have gained Pope Francis positive attention are not new to the church. But Pope Francis' personality and methods have drawn new attention to the message, the priest said.

Stansberry, like Gibbs in her commentary, said Pope Francis seems to have made the Church more accessible and more approachable.

“It makes it seem like the Church is not in some building somewhere but it's out in the streets with the people,” Stansberry said.

“In the old days, we wanted people to come to us, and I think the pope is saying, ‘No, no. We need to be out in the streets giving to the people.'”

Meanwhile, Pedro Moreno, director of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City's office of Hispanic ministry, said the best part of the pope being honored by Time magazine is that such publicity will draw more people to his Gospel message.

“Some people who may not have been tuned in to the pope may now say ‘Let me see who this man is and what he has been saying,'” Moreno said. “By putting the focus on him, people will become more focused on the message, and the message is the love of Jesus Christ. I'm giddy about the whole thing. It's a wonderful blessing.”

Moreno said Pope Francis is not looking for an award, a trophy or a medal as he fulfills his papal call.

Stansberry agreed. “He would definitely say it's the message, not the messenger.”

by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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