Pope Francis spoke English publicly for the first time in his role as leader of the world’s Catholics in a message released Friday to participants at an evangelization conference in the Philippines.
In the recording, which runs about two minutes long, the pope addresses those attending the Philippine Conference on the New Evangelization, calling them "brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ" and urging them to continue pursuing God's work.
"Do not get tired of bringing the mercy of the Father to the poor, the sick, the abandoned, the young people and families," Francis said. "Let Jesus be known in the world of politics, business, arts, science, technology and social media. Let the Holy Spirit renew creation and bring forth justice and peace in the Philippines and in the great continent of Asia that is close to my heart."
Philippines is the largest predominantly Catholic country in Asia.
Born in Argentina, Francis is fluent in Spanish and Italian. He also speaks some Latin, French and Portuguese.
The pope concluded his English-language message asking conference participants to pray for him.
“Please, pray for me, I need it," Francis said. "I promise to pray for you."