New Pope Praised by Evangelicals
Could the papacy of Francis I include more dialogue and unity between Catholics and Evangelicals?

The news from Rome yesterday that cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aries has been elected the 266th Pope has brought swift responses from around the globe. More progressive news agencies were quick to point out Bergoglio's conservative views on homosexuality, marriage, and contraception. Others focused on the new Pope's humility and concern for the poor in his native Argentina–a quality emphasized by Bergoglio choosing the name Francis I.

Evangelicals are also expressing their thoughts on the new Pope. My friend Kevin Palau, president of the Luis Palau Evangelistic Association, emailed me yesterday with excitement. It turns out his father, Luis Palau, aslo from Argentina, is a close personal friend of Bergoglio. Luis reports that Francis I has been a good friend to evangelicals in Latin America.

A report from The Oregonian included Palau's reaction to the news:

"I exploded," Palau exclaimed. "I just couldn't believe it. In the last election, he was in the running but he told me he felt led by God to remove himself from the race. "I said, 'Maybe next time,' and he said, 'I'll be too old.'"

Palau has a history of praying with the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church. He said, "Whenever we pray together, [Bergoglio] says, 'lay your hands on me and pray for me, that God will keep me as servant.' " And Palau calls the new Pope a leader who is "respectful of all sides of Christianity."

And email from another evangelical leader in Argentina confirms Palau's assessment of Francis I. He writes:

"He is much more of a Christian, Christ centered and Spirit-filled, than a mere churchman. He believes the Bible as it is written. I have been with him on many occasions and he always makes me sit next to him and invariably makes me take part and often do what he as Cardinal should have done. He is consistently humble and wise, outstandingly gifted yet a common man. He is no fool and speaks out very quietly yet clearly when necessary. I consider this to be an inspired appointment not because he is a close and personal friend but because of who he is In Christ. Pray for him"

Both John Paul II and Benedict XVI, Francis' predecessors, each sought to create more unity between Catholics and other streams of Christianity. Given the new Pope's strong connections with evangelical leaders, and the charge Benedict gave the cardinals before the conclave to seek the spiritual renewal of the church, I wonder if we might see Francis pursue even more dialogue and cooperation with Protestants and evangelicals.

What is your take on the new Pope?

March 14, 2013

Displaying 1–7 of 7 comments

Don Blosser

October 08, 2013  3:03am

This man is the head of the Roman Catholic Church. A religion that denies the sufficiency of Christ's finished work on the cross. A religion that for centuries persecuted to death those who dared to freely publish the Bible because it exposes the false foundation and teachings of their religion. A religion that centuries ago at Trent pronounced anathemas (curses) on those who believe that faith in Christ is sufficient for eternal life apart from added human merit. Those curses have never been rescinded. Will this self-styled "Francis" who is granting plenary indulgences on Twitter recant the Anathemas of Trent? Not likely. This man is supposed to be such a great humble guy. A guy who takes the bus to work. If he is so humble why would he seek or accept such an unbiblically exalted position? Tell me where you find the word or even the concept of "Pope" in the Bible. Christ said do not call anyone Father (as a religious title) for we have one Father in heaven. This man is the latest in a long line of usurpers.

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C. A. Harris

March 28, 2013  5:31am

Pope Francis appears to be a humble, compassionate and devoted Roman Catholic man. However, true believers in Jesus Christ need to remember the Apostle Paul's admonition: "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:8, esv). Strong words, I know! But Jesus and Paul were never known for their "political correctness." Some important questions to ask: What is the true Gospel? How is one saved, biblically? What is a Christian? How is sin paid for? When Jesus died on the cross, He said, "It is finished." What does this mean? And, what does it mean to be "saved by grace, through faith, not of works" (Eph. 2:8-9)? Compare the Roman Catholic answers to the Bible, and some real conflicts exist. We should always be respectful in our discussions, of course, but never afraid to stand for the Truth! No matter how Christian Pope Francis looks and sounds, Christians must exercise wisdom by not separating him from the Roman Catholicism he believes and preaches. Its foundation is a false Gospel! Christian Leaders are called to keep careful watch on maintaining correct doctrine in their churches (1 Tim. 4:16). It could mean the difference between eternal life and death. Let's be wise, discerning, and courageous in our stand for the true Gospel!

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March 14, 2013  4:19pm

I'm encouraged by these descriptions of the new Pope. ISTM understanding and mutual respect are always plusses between sincere followers of Christ, regardless of our backgrounds. Anyway, it beats us "dissing" one another–especially in view of the increasing hostility of the secular culture to any Christian beliefs and values that could be construed as traditional.

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March 14, 2013  11:57am

Pope Francis I will be a magnificent Pope... his humility and his connection to the people will renew our church and keep it on the path that both Pope John Paul and Pope Benedict had laid out for all of us people of faith... let us pray for this wonderful man and let us love him and defend our faith in the Lord Jesus...

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Steve Martin

March 14, 2013  11:54am

I hope this new Pope is a good and faithful steward of God's Word. As much as is possible for someone presiding over a semi-Pelagian system.

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March 14, 2013  11:40am

"What is your take on the new Pope?" Actually, I'm rather curious about your take on the new Pope... "I wonder if we might see Francis pursue even more dialogue and cooperation with Protestants and evangelicals." And what do you see coming out of such dialogue?

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br. thomas

March 14, 2013  11:39am

By all accounts, he seems to be a humble servant of God who, in the words of St. Francis, "proclaims the Good News of Christ at all times, and, when necessary, uses words." I will pray for him.

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