Pope Francis has brushed off his German to greet some 50,000 German-speaking young people on a pilgrimage to Rome.

Francis followed the all-German program during the Tuesday evening vigil service in St. Peter's Square and read from prepared German texts.

Unlike his 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.