With the recent installation of a new Roman Catholic pope named Francis, a lot of people have been digging into the roots of the namesake saint, Francis of Assisi.  So in this month, in honor of the new pope, this Protestant writer will bring out some elements from the lives of both Francis of Assisi and Pope Francis.

You might ask me, a Protestant Christian, why I would focus four Wisdom Wednesdays on a Roman Catholic pope.  After all, since I disagree with my Catholic brothers and sisters on more than a couple of issues, why would I praise this man and his namesake saint?  Why would I do such a thing?  Simply, because he is a great spokesman for what Christianity.

Whether evangelicals like it or not, when the average non-churchgoer thinks about a leader within Christianity, their mind typically goes to a few people.  Billy Graham might be in the mix, perhaps Desmond Tutu or Rick Warren.  Most, I would guess, would think about the man in St. Peter’s.  This man has the largest platform to speak on behalf of the Church.  Pope Francis has the ability to speak on many issues that might be of interest to evangelicals as well, like the sanctity of life and the defense of the weak against an unjust strong.  Francis is an articulate speaker who matches words with his lifestyle.

According to a lot of accounts, this Jesuit pope is theologically conservative in a lot of respects and is also a strong advocate for helping the poor.  However, his advocacy for the poor is not some platitude or passing fad.  No, he chose to live humbly, took public transportation when he didn’t have to, and frequently met with many people in weak social positions.  He performed sensible things when he could have lived so much more comfortably.

I understand the tension between Roman Catholic and Protestants, believe me, as a student of Church History and Theology, I get that.  But think about the things we have in common, not just the Nicene Creed.  Pope Francis, at this stage in his papacy and life, should be a great leader for our faith, even if we might disagree on a myriad of issues.

What are your feelings on Pope Francis?