The selection of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina as the next pope will have a significant impact on churches in Latin America–Catholic and Protestant. Latin America is home to roughly four in every 10 of the world’s Roman Catholics. Nonetheless, the Catholic Church in the region has been in decline for decades, a situation from which evangelicals have benefited.
Francis, by all accounts, is a humble man who loves the poor and who will seek spiritual renewal in the church, and particularly in Central and South America. If the pope can accomplish this–and I have seen the crushing influence of a dead church in South America–then all to the good. Protestants have done a great work in introducing their societies to the Savior, and that work will and must go on. But if they finally face a little friendly “competition” from their Catholic neighbors who are excited about Jesus, then everyone wins.