The crowd looks in direction of the window of the apostolic palace overlooking St. Peter’s square during Pope Francis’ Regina Coeli prayer on April 1st, 2024 in The Vatican. Image Credit: AFP

ROME: The Vatican said Tuesday it would begin translating its news stories into Kannada, making the Indian language the 53rd used by the Vatican’s media outlet.

The addition of Kannada - spoken by an estimated 40 million people in and around the southern Indian state of Karnataka - helps the Church better communicate with its followers on the continent where Catholicism is expanding.

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“News about the pope, the Vatican, the universal Church and the world will be of great interest and importance for the local church,” said the Archbishop of Bangalore, Peter Machado, in announcing the new addition on Vatican News.

He thanked Pope Francis for his continued efforts to “bring the Church to the peripheries”.

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More than two per cent of India’s 1.4 billion people are Christian, according to the most recent census, most of them Catholic, representing approximately 20 million people.

Hinduism is the majority religion, at about 80 per cent, followed by Islam.

Paolo Ruffini, the prefect of the Dicastery for Communication, called the Vatican’s effort an “homage” to the culture of those who speak the ancient Dravidian language of Kannada and “a way of walking together”.

Vatican News is the official media outlet of the Holy See, whose official language is Italian.

Other non-European languages into which the portal translates its stories include Mongolian, Malayalam, Swahili, and Amharic.