Time magazine didn't break new ground by naming Pope Francis its person of the year. He is the third pope to be so named, following John XXIII and John Paul II.

More significant is the speed with which Francis has captured the rapt attention of the world far beyond his church. Few people outside the church or his native Argentina knew who Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Bueonos Aires was at this time just last year. His fellow cardinals elected him pope only in March.

He was unique from the outset. He is the first pope from the Americas, the first Jesuit and the first non-European in more than 1,300 years.

It is the difference in his world view that has set him apart over the ensuring months. While proposing no sweeping changes in church doctrine, he has called for a major shift of emphasis.

As Time editor Nancy Gibbs put it in announcing his selection: "Rarely has a new player on the world stage captured so much attention so quickly - young and old, faithful and cynical - as has Pope Francis. In his nine months in office, he has placed himself at the very center of the central conversations of our time: about wealth and poverty, fairness and justice, transparency, modernity, globalization, the role of women, the nature of marriage, the temptations of power. ..."

In a very short time indeed, Pope Francis has demonstrated by his priorities and by the way he lives, that his impact will not be confined to a year or a news cycle.