BEAVERTON -- Christian evangelist Luis Palau knows Pope Francis from his days as a cardinal back in Argentina.

Over the decades, Palau has spoken to large crowds in his native land. It's in that role that he met the future pope.

I've met him several times, gone to his place, we've talked, we've prayed together you know. He builds bridges to other Christian groups, like evangelical Christians, which is a high percentage in Latin America. He's a friend. He's a real friend, said Palau.

The evangelist said he's not surprised to learn the man who checked in to his hotel as a cardinal, came back as pope to pay the bill himself on Thursday.

The new pope also avoided wearing the red cape his predecessor wore when presented to the world.

He doesn t act superior or above, you know, because of his position and so on. You'd never guess he was a cardinal if he walked in the room, because he makes a point of it. He's not impressed by himself, said Palau.

Pope Francis does have detractors, activists who were critical of the church's lack of action in Argentina in the mid-1970s to protect the people from military dictators. They accuse him of being more concerned with the church's image.

That makes Palau angry.

It's, you know, so easy to make statements, why don t they say this or say that. Why don t you go, become a citizen and live there, then try to do it? he said.

Luis Palau believes a big focus for the new pope will be the youth of the world, as it has been for decades.

His passion for (the)young was in my book, far more visible and that shows you my conversations with him, than even his work with the poor. He really was desperate about the secularization of young people all over the west and all over the world, said Palau.

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