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When Pope Benedict XVI decided to retire, I saw a number of Roman Catholic leaders, including several of the cardinals, interviewed about the kind of person who should be elected as the new Pope. A number of the interviewers thought that the new Pope ought to be a really good manager who could whip the bureaucracy into shape, or deal effectively with scandals. But several of the clergy interviewed said that the most important characteristic is that the new Pope must be an evangelist, someone who could effectively communicate the Gospel to the modern world. I found this to be quite remarkable. I wonder how many of the cardinals at the conclave of 1958, the last one before Vatican II, would have phrased the role of the Pope in this way. 

The kind of person who becomes Pope will have a profound effect in the overall fortunes of Christianity in our world. The new Pope's attitude toward Protestant Christianity, especially in Latin America, but also elsewhere, will be important to the cause of missions. Wesley Granberg-Michealson, former leader of the Reformed Church in America offers some interesting thoughts on where the next Pope should come from in this article. What are you hoping for in the election of a new Pope?


Steve, evangelism for God's church is important.   The RomC church has been very evangelical, especially in the 16th to 19th century.   But don't you wonder a bit?   The first statement I read on the news that the new pope made included  this:  " ...I will pray to the Madonna, that she will save Rome...."    Really? 

Mariology remains a big issue.  We shouldn't dodge that reality.  So, I'm not saying that all is well.  I'm just observing that the amount of change in the last half century has been remarkable.

For more thoughts on the new Pope from retired missionary Adrian Helleman click here

 Here is something from Christianity Today on what can what cannot be expected from the new Pope. 

Steve, some of the comments under the Christianity Today article are enlightening. 

I have appreciated all the links given both in the blog and in the comments. It will be interesting to see how Francis's Jesuit background influences his papacy and his relationship with Protestants. It is significant that Francis gave his first Sunday message on forgiveness, which is still the message that the whole world needs to hear. 


For starters, my wish for a new pope  would hope for a man who does not think that he is the "infallable representative of God on earth".  After all, why do we put up with that?  He cannot possible be representing a God who states that only He is infallable and to even recognise a meer man as infallable really gets my dander up!  Do we need to accept a Pope at all, as Bible believing Christians?  He may be "proclaiming the Word of God" - but then, a pope thinks he's a god!  (I did not put a capital letter on that for a reason.)  And who is this pope leading people to?  An infallable, one only TRUE God?  Hmm, the RCC has changed a lot, but that is one major flaw we should not accept.

Just to clarify the Roman Catholic Church's position on this matter, the doctrine of papal infallibility only applies in very specific circumstances, and is rarely invoked.  Also, it is an innovation proclaimed by the First Vatican Council in 1870.  For a church that claims tradition as its authority, this is a big problem!  This is another important issue that remains between Catholics and everyone else, including the Eastern Orthodox, but this Pope is talking a lot about Jesus. 

Jane Lise on March 21, 2013

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

So then it's like putting on the "ritz"...infallible when needed, otherwise he's just a commoner like us!  That must work really well.  Sorry, I'm sticking with the Reformed view of this, only God the Father is infallible!

For twelve years my husband and I served as missionaries to Spain. If we were still there, I would be encouraging my evangelical friends to take advantage of this little window in which the new pope is using some of our language. His current emphasis on Jesus, humility, and forgiveness can be used to open opportunities to share the gospel with many cultural Roman Catholics in traditional countries like Spain. 

Thanks for your reflections Steve. We recently talked to some Catholic friends who said Pope Francis is very much centered on the cross and its significance for all of life. They added that because he is focussed on the cross he will be ecumenical, because all Christians are focussed on the cross. And with his focus on the cross he will be evangelical, because the cross is still Good News for the world today.  It was good to hear that!  Yes, we certainly have some huge doctrinal differences but we have a common mission and serve the same Lord. 

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