WASHIGNTON (AP/WJLA) - Pope Francis is having a pretty good year for himself. He succeeded Pope Benedict XIV at the Vatican, he's already been named Time's Person of the Year and he spent Tuesday celebrating his 77th birthday.
Now, in what could be a shift between the gay community and the Catholic faith, one of the nation's most prominent gay and lesbian publications is honoring him as well.
The Advocate, America's oldest gay rights magazine, is following Time's suit, naming him their person of the year as well.
It's a move that's being praised by the gay Catholic organization Dignity USA. Their decision comes a year after offering his views on homosexuality, saying that if someone is gay and seek's the Lord's good will, he has no place to judge them.
"We're just so thrilled he's listening to us," Daniel Barutta from Dignity USA said. "He's really making an effort to listen to people on the margins."
The Advocate article says Pope Francis offers LGBT Catholics who remain in the church more reason to hope that change is coming.
But Msgr. John Enzler, a priest of 40 years, says The Advocate's honor may not sit well with all Catholics.
"This is a concern to some people, but I think it's what the church should do," Enzler said. "The church is saying, 'Let's reach out and let's find ways to say you are part of our flock.'"
Meanwhile, in the Vatican, four homeless people, one of them bringing his dog, helped Pope Francis celebrate his 77th birthday.
They live on the street in the Rome neighborhood just outside the Holy See's walls and were invited by the Vatican official in charge of alms-giving to attend the morning Mass which Francis celebrates daily at the hotel where he lives on Vatican City grounds, the Vatican said.
One of the men held his dog as he was presented to Francis after the guests chatted following Mass.
The Vatican also said Francis invited his household help to join him in a "family-like" atmosphere, and he spoke of them one by one during his homily.
Francis, who is making history as one of the more informal and down-to-earth popes in recent times, struck a modest note as he reflected out loud about people's roles in the world. "Let the Lord write our history," he said in his homily.