- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Pope Francis has just boosted his image as the pontiff of the people a smidgen higher. The Catholic Church head has gone pop culture, and it’s his smiling face that appears on the most recent cover of the Rolling Stone.

The cover feature now cements the Vatican head among other pop icons and celebrities who’ve graced the iconic magazine’s front face: Eminem, Paul McCartney and Miley Cyrus, to name a few.

And the inner pages pay him similar homage. In a piece that spans about 8,000 words, writer Mark Binelli writes of “Pope Francis: The Times They Are A-Changing,” and the transformative image of the church under the current pontiff.

An excerpt: “Benedict, a dour academic, kept this portion of the general audience to a minimum. But Francis, like Bill Clinton, thrives on personal contact, and he spends the better part of an hour greeting believers. Next to the dais, a rowdy hometown team of Italians, a couple of whom spoke loudly on their cellphones throughout the pope’s sermon, have their cameras out like paparazzi. ‘Papa Francesco! Papa Francesco!’ they shout, shrilly and incessantly. … The most shameless hold up children.

He goes on: “It’s a funny thing, papal celebrity. As the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio had never been an especially gifted public speaker. But now that he’s Pope Francis, his recognizable humanity comes off as positively revolutionary.”

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