Possessed of much less linguistic fluency 보다 John Paul II and also Benedict XVI, the holy Father is moving out his papal publicly duties almost exclusively in Italian.

You are watching: How many languages does the pope speak

(photo: Presidência da Republica/Roberto Stuckert Filho)
VATICAN CITY — Fluency in English and also other languages has actually long been thought about a prerequisite because that a pope.

Blessed Pope john Paul II arguably set the standard, discovering as countless as 12 languages and also speaking eight of lock fluently. Benedict XVI, his successor, was deemed to be fluent in seven and was specifically proficient in French, the first foreign language the learned.

But Pope Francis’ etymological abilities are, through his very own admission, substantially inferior. Except Spanish, his mom tongue, he knows German and also Italian well, although that admits the former is rusty.

The divine Father prefers not to publicly speak any type of languages other than Italian at basic audiences, the recaps of i beg your pardon are currently read by assorted officials in the Secretariat the State. This reluctance was additionally seen top top Easter Day, when, after moving his article urbi et orbi (to the city that Rome and also to the world), the refrained native wishing a Happy Easter in 65 of the world’s languages — a custom begun by man Paul II.

Reasons behind this approach were revealed in a 2010 story by Sergio Rubin and Francesca Ambrogetti the then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, referred to as El Jesuita. In it, he describes that that understands the Italian dialect of his father and maternal grandparents that came native the Piedmont region in Italy.

Then-Cardinal Bergoglio additionally said he understood some of the Genoa dialect of northern Italy, however that almost every one of it, taught to that by among his uncles, is “off-color” and therefore unrepeatable.

Not being his very first language, Pope Francis’ Italian is normally not perfect, however he is proficient (some have noticed common, minor mistakes in his unscripted remarks).

As because that his various other languages, the Pope said in the biography: “I have to say the I offered to speak them, however do not speak them due to the fact that of lack of practice. I supplied to speak French relatively well, and also I obtained along in German.”

But he added: “What has always caused the most problems for me has actually been English, especially the phonetics.” The reason, he said, is since he’s “tone deaf.”


Avoiding ‘Favoritism’

And yet Pope Francis even refrains from speaking his indigenous Spanish at public events. Vatican spokesman Jesuit dad Federico Lombardi said Catholic News company April 2 the it was “pretty clear that he desire to no discriminate” and show any kind of favoritism by choosing to speak some languages and not others, even his mother tongue.

“Evidently, he doesn’t think it’s vital — either for factors of preparation or exertion — the he personally read all the summaries in the various languages,” dad Lombardi said. This would certainly be in line through Pope Francis’ desire because that simplicity.

Some view this together a welcome development. Vatican officials now speaking in the Pope’s stead will ensure his native are properly heard and, the Vatican hopes, understood. That could also have a minor affect on the an option of future papal candidates, who will no longer be penalized for not being polyglots, if in fact this was ever before regarded as a significant handicap by the cardinal electors.

On the various other hand, rather argue the a non-English-speaking pope method that the papal blog post in English-speaking locations will shed some of the immediacy and familiarity the comes through hearing English talked by the divine Father. In traditionally Protestant countries such as Britain, for example, the papacy and the Church proceed to be seen as something foreign, and also the absence of a pope that speaks English may accentuate the perception.

However, as recorded in a current poll that churchgoing Catholics, his “shortcoming” hasn’t appeared to hurt his receptivity in the united States.

See more: How Long Does It Take Water To Boil ? How Long Does It Take For Water To Boil

Edward Pentin is the Register’s Rome correspondent.


Edward Pentin Edward Pentin started reporting on the Pope and the Vatican through Vatican Radio prior to moving ~ above to end up being the Rome correspondent because that the Register. The has likewise reported on the divine See and also the Catholic Church for a number of other publications consisting of Newsweek, Newsmax, Zenit, The Catholic Herald, and also The holy Land Review, a Franciscan publishing specializing in the Church and also the center East. Edward is the author of The following Pope: The leading Cardinal Candidates (Sophia academy Press, 2020) and The Rigging of a Vatican Synod? an Investigation right into Alleged Manipulation in ~ the particularly Synod top top the Family (Ignatius Press, 2015). Monitor him top top Twitter at