IMPORTANT CORRECTION: “Suicide of altering the Faith”

One hundred four years ago today, Our Lady of Fatima made good on her promise to little Lucia to deliver a miracle that would prove the Heavenly origins of her message.

Sixteen years later, the future Pope Pius XII, Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, shed light on that message in comments made to his friend, Count Enrico Galeazzi, as cited in the French book, Pie XII devant L’histoire:

I am worried by the Blessed Virgin’s messages to Lucy of Fatima. This persistence of Mary about the dangers which 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.

At this point, most if not all readers of this space have encountered this citation numerous times precisely as repeated above. Indeed, it appears in exactly the same form on this blog, both in my own writing and that of other contributors. 

For my own part, I have commented on the Cardinal’s words – in writing, in videos, and in my conferences – in part, by focusing on the notion of suicide. For instance, in a 2015 post, I wrote:

If we pay close attention to what Cardinal Pacelli is saying, we cannot help but recognize that he is speaking of an internal crisis of faith that necessarily includes the pope.

Think about it: Suicide is death self-imposed at the hands of the very one who rules over the body. If the head is not willing, the hand cannot act.

In the case of the Church, it refers to a threat that comes from within; one that involves the very head itself, and that is, of course, the occupant of the Office of Peter.

The time to issue a critically important correction is long overdue.

NB: Nearly everywhere that this quote from Cardinal Pacelli appears in print – whether in books, magazines, or websites – one finds ellipses indicating that certain words or sentences have been omitted. In hindsight, I am embarrassed to admit that it wasn’t until very recently that I was moved to investigate exactly what the missing text entails.

While many writers far more well-informed than I have also provided the abbreviated quote, thankfully others have done better by providing the full quote, including the words that are commonly missing. In my research, I found two such citations, one offered in an article posted at 1Peter5, the other on the website Tradition in Action.

Following is the full citation with emphasis added:

I am concerned about the confidences of the Virgin to the little Lucia of Fatima. The persistence of the Good Lady in face of the danger that threatens the Church is a divine warning against the suicide that the modification of the Faith, liturgy, theology, and soul of the Church would represent. 

… of the Church would represent. 

These words make it clear that Cardinal Pacelli is saying that such modifications as those listed would represent death self-imposed if such was possible. Certainly, however, he (like every Catholic worthy of the name) knew very well that such is absolutely impossible, for one, because the Church is indefectible and her suicide would be tantamount to the gates of Hell prevailing.

In my naïveté, not only did I fail to acknowledge as much, I even went so far as to suggest that Cardinal Pacelli’s reflection on Our Lady’s message amounts to a prophecy that the Vicar of Christ himself would be (and has been) the perpetrator of these deadly alterations! I take no comfort in recognizing how many other writers have done, and continue to do, the same (including those who provided the full quote at 1Peter5 and Tradition in Action). 

I cannot stress this emphatically enough: The notion that true popes are capable of carrying out suicidal acts against the Church is grievously wrong. 

The truth, thanks be to God, is that the popes are incapable of such things inasmuch as the “gift of truth and never-failing faith” has been “divinely conferred on Peter and his successors,” so as to guarantee that the Church “resting on its foundation [the papacy], can stand firm against the gates of Hell.” (cf Pastor Aeternus, First Vatican Council) 

From the time of the conciliar revolution to the present day, there has been a concerted effort on the part of many influential persons to convince others, and perhaps even themselves, that there are such things as “bad popes” who occasionally launch doctrinal, liturgical and theological attacks against the very Body of Christ over which the Lord has empowered them to rule.

And this, I suspect, is precisely why the Evil One inspired someone to insert ellipses in the translated words of Cardinal Pacelli in the first place. It is an act of deception so subtle as to go practically unnoticed, in furtherance of a vicious and dangerous lie.

Now, you know better.