Pope Francis, whose comments and actions have produced apoplexy among the US religious right, including Tea Party favourite Sarah Palin, "reminds me of Jesus", says a leading evangelical.
The comments come in a Facebook post by Jim Wallis, founder and leader of the Sojourners magazine and community in Washington DC, a pastor and proponent of non-partisan progressive evangelicalism.
"Pope Francis reminds me of Jesus, calling us again to a deeper relationship with Christ," Wallis says. "When he invites homeless men to have breakfast with him on his 77th birthday, or provides a chair and food for the Swiss Guard outside his room, he reminds us of Christ.
"When he kisses the feet of Muslim prisoners, or offers to baptise the baby of a woman who was pressured to abort it, he reminds us of Christ.
"When he asks, 'If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?' he reminds us of Christ.
"When he chooses a simple place to live and simple clothes to wear and when we hear rumours of his going out at night in disguise to minister to the homeless, he reminds us of Christ."
Meanwhile, Pope Francis has been named ‘Person of the Year’ by leading US gay rights magazine, The Advocate.
The pontiff's views on sexuality and gender issues remain traditional, but his change of tone, humanity and willingness to dialogue have been widely welcomed.
He is also embracing on what reformers hope will be a thoroughgoing clean-up of the Curia, the Vatican's hierarchical and secretive senior civil service.