Argentine-born evangelist's friend is now pope

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An American evangelist who was born in Argentina says he and Pope Francis have been friends for years.

The Rev. Luis Palau, who preaches all over the world, says he's met and prayed with the former archbishop of Buenos Aires on many occasions, including after the 2005 papal conclave when then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (HOHR'-hay bur-GOHG'-lee-oh) was runner-up to Pope Benedict.

Palau says he told Bergoglio, "Maybe next time" — to which he says the Argentine cardinal responded, "No, I'll be too old."

Evangelical churches have made sharp inroads in traditionally Catholic Latin America, but Palau says the man who now is pope has always been respectful of other faiths, and once asked the evangelist to lay hands on him and pray.

Palau says he'll continue to pray for Pope Francis now that his friend is Holy Father to the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.

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