“Whenever you talk to him 9the pope), the conversation ends with a request: ‘Pastor, pray for me,” said Bongarrá. He recalls when Bergoglio once attended a weekly worship meeting organized by Buenos Aires’s charismatic pastors. “He mounted the platform and called for pastors to pray for him,” said Bongarrá. “He knelt in front of nearly 6,000 people, and [Protestant leaders] laid hands and prayed.”
This ‘protestant blessing’ thing seems to be being understood out of context. He asked for some ‘evangelicals’ to pray for them. It looks like he thinks of them as material heretics in good faith. He seems to have more of an instinct for ecumenism toward protestants than towards the ‘Orthodox’, ‘Anglo-Catholics’ or the SSPX. His heart seems to be with simplicity of proclamation and reverence for scripture so it is easier for him to see the good in such quarters than in those erring Christians whose tendencies are of a conservative bent. They then prayed for him in the manner which such persons habitually do by laying on hands. I doubt very much if they think this constitutes a ‘blessing’ or if the then Cardinal thought it did either. Obviously given the use of this gesture in sacramental rites and some priestly blessings it is open to serious misinterpretation. Nevertheless, it would be arguably far more serious to seek an actual blessing from a schismatic eastern priest yet it would not have provoked this attention.