Time magazine has published its annual list of the 100 people it believes are most influential in the world. The Dalai Lama, leader of the world’s Tibetan Buddhists, is there. So is Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. But Pope Benedict XVI was not among the Time editors’ choices.
He was, however, 60th in the poll conducted among Time readers.
Some of my Italian colleagues — perhaps like some Time readers — were shocked that the pope didn’t make the list. So they asked Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the papal spokesman, to comment.
Father Lombardi said he was not particularly upset by the pope-less list.
In fact, he said, “I’m pleased the pope is not there because they used criteria totally extraneous to an evaluation of moral and religious authority.”
In a list that includes politicians, actors and sports stars, “I find it positive that they do not confuse the pope’s type of authority and service with other, mundane characteristics.”
At least one Time writer wanted the magazine to rank the chosen 100 instead of just listing them. He even attempted to come up with a mathematical formula for doing so.
But, again, Father Lombardi defended the Time editors: “It would be difficult to make comparisons or give a scale when dealing with such diverse characteristics.”