Taking on challenge of English

Pope Francis took a risk in making his address to Congress in English, given that his only formal training in the language came more than 35 years ago in Ireland. He went to a Jesuit center in Dublin for a few months early in 1980, after an Irish Jesuit in Argentina suggested he learn English. But the language never fully took. The pope is a native Spanish speaker, fluent in Italian and conversant in German. Vatican officials said he decided to speak English in Congress and at the White House because he wanted to speak the primary language of the United States in what he called the houses of the people of the United States.

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