ROME -- Pope john Paul II was able to interact in number of languages. And if he didn"t understand one prior to traveling come a international country, a coach all set him because that remarks in such languages together Japanese, Swahili, even Papua new Guinea"s native tongue, Melanesian Pidgin.

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John Paul, a native Pole who made note of his negative Italian when he to be selected for the papacy, ended up being a master of multilingual communication. His language skills collection a high standard for his successor.

""Pope man Paul"s capacity to speak other languages permitted him come make better contacts with people leaders such together Fidel Castro and also Pinochet," said Marco Politi, coauthor of ""His Holiness: man Paul II and also the Hidden background of our Time."

""The capability to speak an additional language can make the next pope more effective."

The pope"s biographers say that in addition to Polish, man Paul could converse in Italian, English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Latin.

Such possible papal candidates as Cardinals Ivan Dias the India, Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga the Honduras, and also Francis Arinze the Nigeria speak numerous languages, consisting of English, French, and also Italian.

But no all the cardinals space as gifted with languages, said John Allen, Vatican correspondent for the nationwide Catholic Reporter and also author of the 2002 publication ""Conclave: The Politics, Personalities, and process of the next Papal Election." for example, Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi of Milan checked out by many Vatican watchers as a top papal candidate, ""is not specifically gifted linguist," Allen said.

Italian is the main language of the Vatican. Because John Paul"s death April 2, cardinals from approximately the people have been attending daily gatherings performed in Italian. But some cardinals, such together Wilfred Fox Napier of southern Africa, follow to Allen, need a translator.

Church officials who desire to know Vatican documents, old manuscripts, and also Gregorian chants also must speak Latin. But because the second Vatican council in the 1960s walk away with the traditional Latin Mass, part cardinals room no longer fluent in Latin, Allen said.

In one interview before taking a vow that silence prior to the conclave the will select the new pope, Cardinal havier Lozano Barragan of Mexico emphasized the importance of language skills, not simply for the pope, however for anyone that works in Vatican City. ""We constantly speak Italian here in the Vatican and also we read files in Latin," he said. ""English and also Spanish speaking are an ext important for Catholics in the world."

The Vatican"s statistics office reported that there are about 500 million Catholics in Latin America alone. Barragan, the previous prefect because that the Pontifical the supervisory board for health Pastoral Care, speak German, French, and near-perfect English, in addition to Spanish.

John Paul II"s Spanish to be weak as soon as he came to be pope in 1978, however he made finding out that language a priority. ""I learned Spanish just by traveling with the pope," said Politi, a reporter for the Italian everyday La Repubblica that accompanied the pope to nine nations in Latin America.

The pope"s knowledge of Spanish proved useful during his 1985 visit to Peru, Politi said. Politi said of the pontiff"s meeting with a peasant that spoke of the injustices of his government.

""We space living like animals," the guy cried, according to Politi. ""And we have actually the civil liberties of beasts."

A monsignor do the efforts to quiet the man, yet the pope to be angry, Politi said. ""Let him speak," the pope claimed in Spanish.

""He was giving a voice to people who are usually without a voice," Politi said.

At the Gregorian college in Rome, a pontifical university that has 14 popes amongst its alumni, professors command classes in Italian. However the international student body is allowed to carry out exercises in assorted languages, consisting of English, French, Portuguese, or German.

Like those students, cardinals and also or potential popes must not it is in pressured to perform in a details language, stated the Rev. Jacob Srampickal, the college"s director of society communications. He claimed the capacity to speak numerous languages need to not it is in a requirement for a pope, as the Vatican has a diplomatic corps approximately the human being to communicate the needs and also demands the Catholics.

As language-savvy as john Paul was, he demonstrated that he was willing to shot to improve. After he was elected pope Oct. 16, 1978, that made among his many memorable speeches in broken Italian.

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""I speak to you in your -- no, our language," he said humbly indigenous the papal balcony. ""If ns make a mistake, exactly me."

Italians, originally shocked by the choice of the very first non-Italian pope in 455 years and the very first Slav ever, erupted in cheers. Through the end of his 26-year papacy, he was able to supply speeches in St. Peter"s Square in Italian, English, French, and German.

""As lengthy as one has a demonstrated capacity to discover languages, a pope would have the ability to communicate eventually," Allen said. ""As we have seen v the last pope, one can pick castle up."