Possessed of less linguistic fluency than John Paul II and also Benedict XVI, the divine Father is moving out his papal public duties practically exclusively in Italian.

You are watching: Does pope francis speak any english

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

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

But Pope Francis’ linguistic abilities are, through his very own admission, substantially inferior. Except Spanish, his mom tongue, he to know German and Italian well, although that admits the previous is rusty.

The holy Father prefers no to publicly speak any kind of languages other than Italian at basic audiences, the summaries of i beg your pardon are currently read by miscellaneous officials in the Secretariat that State. This reluctance was likewise seen ~ above Easter Day, when, after delivering his message urbi et orbi (to the city the Rome and to the world), he refrained native wishing a Happy Easter in 65 the the world’s languages — a custom begun by man Paul II.

Reasons behind this method were revealed in a 2010 story by Sergio Rubin and also Francesca Ambrogetti of then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, called El Jesuita. In it, he explains that the understands the Italian language of his father and maternal grandparents who came from the Piedmont region in Italy.

Then-Cardinal Bergoglio additionally said he understood some that the Genoa language of northern Italy, but that almost all of it, teach to the by among his uncles, is “off-color” and also therefore unrepeatable.

Not being his first language, Pope Francis’ Italian is naturally not perfect, yet he is knowledgeable (some have noticed common, young mistakes in his unscripted remarks).

As for his other languages, the Pope stated in the biography: “I need to say the I provided to speak them, but do no speak them since of lack of practice. I used to speak French relatively well, and I gained along in German.”

But that added: “What has constantly caused the most troubles for me has been English, specifically the phonetics.” The reason, the said, is because he’s “tone deaf.”


Avoiding ‘Favoritism’

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

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

Some see this as a welcome development. Vatican officials currently speaking in the Pope’s stead will ensure his indigenous are appropriately heard and, the Vatican hopes, understood. That could additionally 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 regarded together a significant handicap by the cardinal electors.

On the various other hand, rather argue the a non-English-speaking pope way that the papal post in English-speaking areas will shed some the the immediacy and familiarity that comes v hearing English spoken by the holy Father. In traditionally Protestant nations such as Britain, for example, the papacy and the Church continue to be viewed as something foreign, and the lack of a pope who speaks English may accentuate that perception.

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

See more: Donald Trump On Fox News This Morning, White House

Edward Pentin is the Register’s Rome correspondent.


Edward Pentin Edward Pentin started reporting on the Pope and also the Vatican v Vatican Radio before moving ~ above to become the Rome correspondent for the Register. The has additionally reported ~ above the divine See and the Catholic Church for a number of other publications including Newsweek, Newsmax, Zenit, The Catholic Herald, and The divine Land Review, a Franciscan publishing specializing in the Church and the middle East. Edward is the author of The next Pope: The top Cardinal Candidates (Sophia academy Press, 2020) and The Rigging of a Vatican Synod? an Investigation into Alleged Manipulation in ~ the extraordinary Synod on the Family (Ignatius Press, 2015). Monitor him top top Twitter at