When you spend every moment with a sibling in a faraway land, matters of the heart are bound to arise. That’s what happened when my brother and I embarked on a trip to Peru this August.

During plane rides, taxi rides, long walks, and long meals, we talked about Star Wars, our parents, and our favorite bourbons. And we talked about Christianity—what it actually teaches, what makes it at once attract and repel “nones” like my brother. Tyler, 25, and I grew up in a “seeker-sensitive” Methodist church in Ohio. But the faith that resonated with me as a young teenager never struck a chord with him.

“Pope Francis really seems different from other church leaders,” said Ty on one of our hikes. “He seems tolerant of other people, and he cares about the poor.” I realized this was not the time for theological nuancing—Well, the church has always cared for the dispossessed; “love,” not “tolerance” is the virtue at play, etc. No, what mattered is that a person who currently has no interest in institutional Christianity had caught in Francis a glimmer of Christ.

Which is one reason why an evangelical publication like CT can devote a cover story to Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Less than two years into the papacy, the former archbishop of Argentina has wooed the press and many skeptics, even as he has raised the ire of fellow Catholics and other Christian leaders. CT editors have no interest in baptizing Pope Francis’s actions with quick praise. We recognize that no number of beautiful photo ops will erase real differences in how Protestants and Catholics articulate the gospel.

That said, we also recognize how much we can learn from the broader Western tradition. Just three examples from this issue: Nativity scenes (p. 54) were first created by Francis’s namesake and became popular in pre-Reformation churches to teach the story of Jesus’ birth to illiterate worshipers; Catholic thinkers such as Glenn Stanton (p. 65) help us navigate issues of marriage and sexuality with grace and truth; and ministries like the Mother of Mercy clinic in Zarqa, Jordan (p. 58) remind us to take the gospel to the most desperate ends of the earth.

In “The Joy of the Gospel,” the first major publication of Francis’s papacy, he writes:

[M]ay the world of our time, which is searching, sometimes with anguish, sometimes with hope, be enabled to receive the good news not from evangelizers who are dejected, discouraged, impatient or anxious, but from ministers of the Gospel whose lives glow with fervor.

If my brother is any indication, we need more Christians like Pope Francis, whose glow will draw a world searching in anguish and hope.

Katelyn Beaty is managing editor of CT magazine. You can follow her on Twitter @KatelynBeaty.

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