When it was reported that Pope Francis chose public transportation over limo service as a cardinal, the world smiled. When he spent Maundy Thursday washing the feet of incarcerated women at a local prison, it touched our hearts. When he embraced a disfigured man, it left us flat-out speechless. [tweetable]Francis is not your father’s Pope.[/tweetable]
But among the most surprising fans of the Pope are Protestants, a group that has often had a less-than-amenable relationship with Catholics historically. But somehow Francis–who some have called the “evangelical Pope”–has begun prying open their arms and sneaking into their hearts. Protestant evangelist Luis Palau has prayed with Francis and even defended his faith. Timothy George, a respected Baptist theologian, has written an article claiming the Pope is “Our Francis, Too.” And a writer for “The Catholic Herald” opined that the Argentine Jesuit is “stirring the hearts of evangelicals all over the world.”
There are many reasons one might give for Francis’ increasing acceptance among Protestants. His humility and concern for the poor are certainly factors. And the Pope often uses language that is meaningful to Protestants–for example, he said Christians must recover their enthusiasm for evangelism and remember that preaching the gospel should be “first and foremost.” But I wanted to dig deeper into the matter by speaking to a Catholic leader who is “in the know.”
Raymond Arroyo is news director and lead anchor for EWTN, a Catholic television network that can be seen in more than 200 million homes across six continents and heard on SiriusXM satellite radio. He’s author of several books, including “Of Thee I Zing: America’s Cultural Decline from Muffin Tops to Body Shots” and a biography of Mother Angelica, both of which were New York Times bestsellers. Here we discuss the state of Catholic-Protestant relations and why Protestants are falling in love with Francis.