The Pope and the Pentecostals

I was surprised in Argentina to find charismatics and Pentecostals genuinely excited about Pope Francis. Some of that was natural national pride, but some went deeper. Pentecostals in Latin America, you may know, are heavily infected with the “prosperity gospel.” In many cases this rationalizes their pastors’ extravagant lifestyle–their big houses, their fancy cars, even their airplanes–as signs of God’s blessing. The more blessing, the greater the prosperity, is how the thinking goes.

But, one pastor told me, if ordinary churchgoers see the Latin American pope living simply, washing the feet of poor people, and rejecting the perks of the Vatican, they get a different model of God’s blessing. It may not be so easy for pastors to claim the Mercedes.

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