VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis called Friday for more dialogue with Islam and offered an olive branch to China and other countries that don't have diplomatic relations with the Holy See.
In his first foreign-policy address as pope, Francis delivered his remarks in Italian rather than the traditional French, another indication that the Argentine-born pope is less than comfortable speaking languages other than Italian and his mother-tongue Spanish.
The occasion was an audience with ambassadors from the 180 countries that have diplomatic relations with the Holy See, in which Francis explained he would work for peace, the poor and to "build bridges" between peoples. He noted that even his title "pontiff" means bridge-builder.
Francis said it was important to intensify dialogue among different religions "particularly dialogue with Islam" and to deepen the church's outreach to atheists.