It appears that the new pope is going to be informal and personable, after the fashion of John Paul II. Following his election, he received the homage of his fellow bishops while standing rather than sitting in the papal throne, he rode in the same minibus he had arrived in with the other cardinals instead of the papal car which had been prepared for him, and he stopped by his hotel and paid his bill and retrieved his suitcases himself (“New Pope Francis Visits St. Mary Major,” Vatican Information Service, March 14, 2013). It also appears that he has a good sense of humor, as he addressed the cardinals at a supper, saying, “May God forgive you [for what you have done].”
Pope Francis is committed to social justice activism, criticizes the “unjust distribution of goods,” and speaks of social sin more than personal sin. All of this will do much to further the ecumenical movement, particularly among kingdom-building liberal Protestants, evangelicals, and emergents. Rick Warren has warmly received the new pope, as reported by Christian News Network, March 13, 2013: “After Bergoglio was appointed as successor today, Warren Tweeted to his over 900,000 followers, ‘Welcome Pope Francis, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio. You have our prayers.’
He included the hashtag ‘habemus papum,’ meaning ‘We have a pope!’” Luis Palau praised the new pope, saying that he “knows Jesus Christ” and is “very spiritual” and “Bible-centered” and “centered on the Gospel” (“Why It Matters that Pope Francis Drinks Matè with Evangelicals,” Christianity Today, Mar. 14, 2013). This, of course, is patently ridiculous. Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, said the new pope “can bring us back to the biblical and Christian care for the poor” (“Why Pope Francis Excites (Most) Evangelical Leaders,” Christianity Today, Mar. 14, 2013).
The fact that a major evangelical leader says the Roman Catholic pope can bring him back to the Bible in any sense shows how late the hour is and how far along we are toward a one-world “church.” Ben Stiller of the World Evangelical Alliance said that “not in 500 years have the two sides [evangelicals and Catholics] been closer” (“A Pope for All Christians,” Christian Today, Mar. 13, 2013). Gary Bauer, president of American Values, urged evangelicals to rejoice at the election of the new pope, believing that he will continue the program started by John Paul II and Benedict XVI of “a new evangelical period for the Catholic Church” (“Why Evangelicals Should Care about the New Pope,” USA Today, Mar. 17, 2013). These popular and influential men are the blind leading the blind.
(Friday Church News Notes, March 22, 2013, www.wayoflife.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, 866-295-4143)