Palmer and Bergoglio had intense discussions about Christian separation, using the analogy of apartheid in South Africa. They found common ground in believing that institutional separation breeds fear and misunderstanding. Bergoglio, whom Palmer called “Father Mario,” acted as a spiritual father to the Protestant cleric, calming him (“he wanted to make me a reformer, not a rebel,” Palmer told me) and encouraging him in his mission to Christian unity.
At one point, when Palmer was tired of living on the frontier and wanted to become Catholic, Bergoglio advised him against conversion for the sake of the mission.
“We need to have bridge-builders”, the cardinal told him.
Yes, that's right. The Pope wanted Tony Palmer to remain Protestant and in serious danger of Hell's fire so Mr. Palmer could continue to work on the Pope's private hobby horse of making iPhone videos for rich televangelists and what not. This also meant that Palmer would remain out of communion with his Catholic family. (His wife is Catholic, and so are their children.)
The Pope doesn't need to follow Church teachings. He's the Pope. He doesnt need to explain. He's the Pope. He doesn't need credibility. He's the Pope. He can do whatever he wants. He's the Pope.
Sadly for Tony Palmer, out of 1.2 billion Catholics, he made friends with the only one who would talk him out of becoming Catholic.
Is Pope Francis a crackpot? The Bear will get back to you on that. After all, he's the Pope.
(Thanks to Elizabeth for the story.)