Pope Francis was named Person of the Year on Wednesday by Time magazine, which praised his efforts to modernize the Catholic Church since being elected pontiff in March.

Time calls Francis "the people's pope," citing his ease in interacting with the faithful and willingness to address issues like the celibacy of priests, the role of women in the church and homosexuality.

"But what makes this Pope so important is the speed with which he has captured the imaginations of millions who had given up on hoping for the church at all," Time said.

Francis has drawn the attention of "people weary of the endless parsing of sexual ethics, the buck-passing infighting over lines of authority when all the while (to borrow from Milton), 'the hungry Sheep look up, and are not fed,' the magazine said.

"In a matter of months, Francis has elevated the healing mission of the church," Time said, adding that the pope has placed the church "above the doctrinal police work so important to his recent predecessors."

"John Paul II and Benedict XVI were professors of theology. Francis is a former janitor, nightclub bouncer, chemical technician and literature teacher," Time said.

Former CIA analyst Edward Snowden, gay rights activist Edith Windsor, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and ultraconservative U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz were the other candidates for Person of the Year, Time said. EFE