Did Cardinal Pacelli (Pius XII) really say this?

For decades now, I have had the quote that is alleged and attributed to Cardinal Pacelli. On and off, I have tried to find the real source or a reliable attribution to this quote. Even today, I still see it circulate around the internet, appearing in websites, forums, and such places. It’s one of the quotes that I want to be real, but I want to be sure that Cardinal Pacelli REALLY said this. Somewhere, there has to be a newspaper article, book, or something that quotes this quote. I bet it’s in Italian. I’m throwing my hands up, so I decided to ask you guys if anyone has the skills to hunt down a real answer.

Here’s the quote, usually claimed to have been said in 1931, I’ve had (it varies from place to place on the internet as I suspect people add their own editorial “flare” to it:

“I am concerned by the Blessed Virgin’s messages to Lucy of Fatima. Mary’s persistence about the dangers that menace the Church is a divine warning against the suicide of altering the Faith, in Her liturgy, Her theology and Her soul…. I hear all around me innovators who wish to dismantle the Sacred Chapel, destroy the universal flame of the Church, reject her ornaments and make her feel remorse for her historical past.
“A day will come when the civilized world will deny its God, when the Church will doubt as Peter doubted. She will be tempted to believe that man has become God. In our churches, Christians will search in vain for the red lamp where God awaits them. Like Mary Magdalene, weeping before the empty tomb, they will ask, ‘Where have they taken Him?’”

A qualified “Wow” is warranted. But something in me keeps saying this is too good to be true — that it might have been manufactured. Finding a newspaper that reported the quote around 1930, or a book that cited it from the period, would be ideal. So far my efforts haven’t turned up a source.

So — can any of you guys determine an answer to Pius XII’s question:  <<Hoc Dixi?>>

Does that quote sound a little “too good to be true” to you too? Have you seen this quote “in the wild” as well?

This article, Did Cardinal Pacelli (Pius XII) really say this? is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
Do not repost the entire article without written permission. Reasonable excerpts may be reposted so long as it is linked to this page.

John B. Manos

John B. Manos, Esq. is an attorney and chemical engineer. He has a dog, Fyo, and likes photography, astronomy, and dusty old books published by Benziger Brothers. He is the President of the Bellarmine Forum.
  • JDJL says:

    The quote is a translation from the French. The original text can be found on p. 52 of a book published in 1972 entitled, “Pie XII devant l’Histoire”, by Georges Roche and Philippe Saint Germain. The authors claim that these words were a confidence made by the Pope to Enrico Pietro Galeazzi. The book was given a scathing review by Emile Poulat at the time of its publication in “Archives des sciences sociales des religions” (vol. 33, no. 33, p. 292-293). Poulat called the work “invraisemblable, dans tous les sens imaginable du mot,”, ie. improblable, bearing little resemblance to the truth. He criticized the authors for ignoring the secondary literature, for giving no blibliography for the primary sources they supposedly consulted, for thinking that documents drawn from the Vatican Archives and prepared for publication by the Jesuits were documents drawn from the Roman Archives of the Society of Jesus, for claiming published records were as yet unpublished. Poulat says that the authors’ work is riddled with minor errors, as well as with other errors less minor. “Tout est de la meme encre fantaisiste”–all from the same fanciful ink.

    • Robert Beaurivage says:

      Emile Poulot was a socialist and a modernist priest with a clear ulterior motive for criticizing this work. As Mr. Ferrara astutely points out, the quote from Poulot is blustery insult rather than analysis, and does not deal with the quote on Pius XII. See Christopher Ferrara’s comment at the bottom of the page:


      • Chris Ferrara says:

        Moreover, Poulat renounced the priesthood after the “worker-priest” movement of which he was a part was denounced by—wait for it—Pius XII in 1954. He is about the last man I would trust for a fair review of the book. Poulat died only last year at the age of 94. It seems he took a wife as well.

      • John B. Manos says:

        I find the discussion of Poulat/Poulot interesting but none of it settles the question of whether Pius XII actually said this quote.

        So far Poulat is the single source. For all we know, in his temperament and desire to criticize the Pope, he manufactured the quote as a straw man to be knocked down. Given the other allegations Mr. Ferrara has pointed out, such a tactic should be expected.

        So, in the absence of another source, the matter is not conclusively settled yet.

        • Scott says:

          Chris, I think it is more than reasonable to disregard Poulat’s critique as barely relevant to the question at hand. What is far more intriguing is the vantage point of Msgr Roche. He was secretary and confidant to the French Cardinal Eugène Tisserant. It was reported upon Tisserant’s death that he bequeathed his personal files to Msgr Roche. Tisserant was not a small fish – he was consecrated by Card. Eugenio Pacelli (Pius XII) and he was to later preside at Pius XII’ and John XXIII’s funeral Masses. He was elevated to Dean of the College of Cardinals in 1951 and remained so until his death in 1972 (the year of the publication of Msgr. Roche’s book). He was the first person after Pope Paul VI to sign each of the acts of the Vatican II. Tisserant was an ex French army intelligence officer – a skill set which no doubt helped him to create the sensation regarding the whereabouts and contents of all of his files after his death. As reported by The Age, a secular newspaper here is Australia at the time (30/5/72), these documents “…were widely believed to contain specific criticisms of the policy of Paul VI as well as startling information about Vatican affairs over nearly half a century…Msgr Roche confirmed that the Vatican was searching for the papers, but said he had taken effective steps to ‘hide them against all comers’.”

  • Bill Crofut says:

    Your question of title was addressed by Christopher Ferrara:


  • Mar says:

    Well, Monsignor Roche, who was for thirty years the secretary of Cardinal Tisserant (who himself was archivist and pro-prefect of the Vatican Library from 1930 to 1936) says in his book that Pope Pius XII actually said this quote. Seems that the man has some degree of credibility.

    Poulat on the other hand was an apostate priest. Yet you seem to be disputing the veracity of Roche, and as a means of maintaining your position, suggesting that Poulat made up the quote for some convoluted reason. Seems like a bit of a stretch.

  • Scott says:

    Besides…if the quote was fabricated, surely Count Galeazzi (who died in 1986) would have challenged the veracity of Msgr Roche’s account…and surely Msgr Roche wouldn’t have dared to publish this account (if it was blatantly false), knowing that Galeazzi was alive and kicking and could easily debunk it? Both men were men of learning, reputation and proximity to the time, the events, the people…and the Pontiff.

  • Cindy says:

    This is a great book on the subject: http://alteringliturgy.com/quotes.html

  • David says:

    9/27/2017 According to this website: http://anna-bp.pl/
    The following quote comes from the conversation of Pius XII with his friend, Enrico Galeazzi, who was included in the biography of Fr. Georges Roche and Dr. Philippe Saint Germain Pie XII devant l’histoire, Paris, Editions Robert Laffont, 1972 pp. 52-53:

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