VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis brushed off his German on Tuesday to greet some 50,000 German-speaking young people on a pilgrimage to Rome.
Francis followed the all-German program during the evening vigil service in St. Peter's Square and read from prepared German texts.
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Unlike his multilingual predecessors, Francis rarely strays from Italian or his native Spanish while speaking in public. Vatican officials have said he isn't comfortable speaking in other languages and doesn't want to show favoritism.
But Francis lived in Germany in the late 1980s while researching a never-finished dissertation and his willingness to cater to the young German-speaking crowd Tuesday made clear his familiarity with the language.
Francis switched back to his more comfortable Italian for a longer speech at the end of the service in which he urged the youths to not get distracted by texting, Internet chats or TV soap operas and make time for their faith. He later posed for selfies and signed autographs for dozens of the kids.