A reading age of 16 is required to understand the Pope's addresses, according to a linguistic test

Benedict XVI’s homilies are pitched at a higher level than the speeches of Barack Obama, according to a popular linguistic test.

Analysis suggests that a reading age of 16 is required to understand the Holy Father, compared to an age of just 13 for Harvard-educated Obama.

The University of Minnesota’s Smart Politics site found that Obama’s state of the union address registered at an eighth grade (13-year-old) reading level, despite the president’s reputation as a brilliant orator.

The score, calculated using the Flesch-Kincaid readability test, is the third lowest of any state of the union address since 1934.

The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), a Catholic institute, analysed Benedict XVI’s addresses since September and found that they scored 11.6 (11th grade) using the same test.

And Blessed Pope John Paul II, based on the homilies he gave in America in 1979, had a slightly lower average score of 10.7.

Neither popes, however, could challenge George Washington’s score of 25, the highest ever recorded for a US presidential address.

The Flesch-Kincaid test uses word and sentence length to calculate how easy a text is to read.