TODAY   |  December 11, 2013

Pope Francis named Time’s Person of the Year

The magazine’s managing editor, Nancy Gibbs, tells Matt Lauer that Pope Francis was selected for changing the tone of the Vatican.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we're back at 7:41 and it's time to reveal time's person of the year. the top five, bashar al assad . senator ted cruz , pope francis , edward snowden and edith windzor. you were here the other day and revealed the top five. once again remind us what qualifies or disqualifies someone from being the person of the year.

>> person of the year is the person that had the most impact on events and our lives for better or worse this year.

>> do you take reader input or is this only up to the staff at time?

>> we make the ultimate decision but we poll readers and correspondences. so we get a lot of input.

>> you know what's on people's minds. let's start with number five and work our way up to the person of the year. at number five we have senator ted cruz of texas. one of the architects.

>> he divided even his own party. he is a hero to the tea party and he is pure heartburn to the establishment of his party. he is a significant symbol of where our politics is headed.

>> all right. let's go to number four over here and at number four we find the only head of state on the list.

>> and a reminder that person of the year is not necessarily a good guy. president assad two years after president obama said he has to go, he is still there which is a reminder that absolute brutality and some strategic cleverness can keep you in power in the middle east for a long time.

>> so he ends up at number four. let's move over at number three. at number three we have someone. i think people heard this name for the first time probably this year. edith windsor. some people aren't sure why she is on the list.

>> an 85-year-old widow becomes an icon for the gay rights movement .

>> it resulted in striking down of the federal defense of marriage act .

>> and really she is a symbol of an extraordinarily fast change in attitude to this country. two years ago amajority of people didn't approve of gay marriage . now that number is reversed.

>> it leaves us with number two. when we reveal number two people will know who number one is. we have edward snowden at number two and pope francis at number one.

>> let's go person of the year, pope francis . time's person of the year was pope francis . it was a very interesting choice this year. he stood out as someone that changed the tone and focus of one of the largest institutions.

>> it's not the first time a pope has been person of the year.

>> no.

>> we got a statement from the vatican this morning. from the pope. and it says this, the holy father is not looking to become famous or to receive honors but if the choice of person of the year helps spread the message of the gospel, a message of god's love for everyone, he will certainly be happy about that.

>> that's what you would expect him to say. so much of what he has done in his brief nine months in office has changed the tone coming out of the vatican. he is saying we're about the healing mission of the church and not about the theological police work that has preoccupied.

>> okay. now we go to edward snowden at number two. obviously someone that created a lot of headlines with his leaks this year. created tension between two world super powers .

>> he pushed a crucial conversation of our time about the balance between privacy and security. about how we feel about just how much information the government can gather on us. we had an interview with him. he thinks it's very important that that debate be happening in a much more intense way.

>> that interview occurring over e-mail i believe.

>> that's right.

>> the person of the year for 2013 is pope francis . nancy, thank you very much for revealing it right here on the show.