Speaking in English for the first time since becoming pope, Francis greeted Filipino and Asian Catholics at a conference on evangelization in Manila
Pope Francis brought joy to Catholics from the Philippines and other parts of Asia today when, speaking publicly in English for the first time, he greeted them in a video-recorded message as they participated in a conference on the new evangelization in Manila.
His three-minute video message was broadcast during morning mass at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, October 18, to participants at the first Philippine Conference on the New Evangelization.
“I am happy to learn that you came to Manila from different parts of the Philippines and Asia”, he told them. “The Holy Spirit is actively at work in you. The Church of Christ is alive!” he added.
He expressed the hope that the conference would help them to “experience again the loving presence of Jesus in your lives”, to “love the Church more”, and to “share the Gospel to all people with humility and joy.”
“Don’t get tired of bringing the mercy of the Father to the poor, the sick, the abandoned, the young people and families”, he told them. He encouraged them to make Jesus known “in the world of politics, business, arts, science, technology and social media.”
He prayed that the Holy Spirit would “renew the creation and bring forth justice and peace in the Philippines and in the great continent of Asia that is close to my heart”.
Then looking at them straight in the eye, he asked them: “Please pray for me. I need it! And I promise to pray for you.” He concluded with these words in the Filipino language: “Viva the Philippines! Viva Asia! May God bless you!”
Cardinal Tagle, who was presiding at the mass, and the participants at the conference applauded warmly when the Pope finished speaking.
This was Pope Francis’ first time speaking in English in public since becoming pope; up to now he had only spoken in public in Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. He speaks Germany fluently but has not spoken it in public yet.
As for English, he studied it in Dublin, Ireland, for a couple of months in 1980. He reads it without difficulty, and can also understand it well when it is spoken clearly, but up to now he has been reluctant to speak in English in public because he feels his pronunciation is not sufficiently good.
His public debut in English today, however, was a distinct success: he spoke it as well, if not better than his immediate predecessors. Furthermore, it was significant that he has finally decided to speak in English, especially since he is considering to undertake visits to the Holy Land and to countries in Asia (including the Philippines) in 2014-15. Today, he signaled his intention to speak in English when he comes.