While on my recent trip to Fátima, I was blessed to consult the Sanctuary’s Studies and Diffusion department under the direction of Dr. Marco D. Duarte. One of the things that I discovered concerned the ever-famous 1967 Allocution of Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani. The Allocution is bound up within the ongoing saga of controversy on the third part of the secret. Specifically, it is thought that Cardinal Ottaviani stated in the Allocution that the text of Sr. Lúcia was composed of 20-25 lines (he did not).
Last year, my own translation of this Allocution was published. Though an English translation already existed, I wanted to have a fresh perspective on it. My work was based upon a well-known French translation published in the periodical La Documentation Catholique.[i] The French, however, is a translation from Italian which was delivered by Ottaviani. Owing to various factors, the French translation became more widely known in the public forum than the Italian.[ii]
I am pleased to announce that there does indeed exist an Italian text of the Allocution.
The staff of the Studies and Diffusion department of the Fátima Sanctuary were kind to allow me to look at some material. While sifting through this material my heart skipped a beat when I turned a page and there before my eyes was Ottaviani’s Allocution in Italian. If memory serves, I think I made an audible gasp or some sort of exclamation.
My thoughts, of course, began to race with the discovery. There were questions that arose from the document, questions that needed answering. Unfortunately, I had to press on with my business and delayed diving into the text until such time when proper attention could be devoted to the matter.[iii] Before leaving Fátima, I requested a copy of the text and, for a minimal fee, was provided one that I took home and since have had time to examine.
It is, thus, my great pleasure to announce that my prior translation of Cardinal Ottaviani’s Allocution has been amended in accordance with the Italian text. The amended text is provided at the end of this article, and it supersedes the previous translation. Before presenting the revised translation, it is necessary to provide some remarks to facilitate the Allocution.
The Allocution was delivered on February 11, 1967 at the Antonianum in Rome. It was then incorporated into a larger volume of Acta (Acts) of the Pontifical International Marian Academy (PAMI). This volume is a standard publication for PAMI and so it did not attract much attention in the larger populous. As such, the Italian text of the Allocution went unnoticed. It appears that the text made it into the Fatima Sanctuary archives from someone who made a Xerox copy from the text in the Acta and placed it in the archives.
The French Translation of the Allocution:
As was said above, the Allocution was best known in a French translation published by La Documentation Catholique (LDC) in 1967. In this translation there were four very helpful footnotes by the editor(s) of LDC when presenting the translation. The first of these notes provided some context for the Allocution. It notified the reader of some critical information pertinent to how the Allocution was delivered and how the French translation was made. Concerning the first point, LDC stated the following:
We have translated this discourse from the audiotape recording of the Cardinal’s address. A (much shorter) written text was given to the press, but the Cardinal, whose sight is not good, spoke without text. The spoken text is notably differently from the written text. We indicate by notes some passages from the written text that are not found in the spoken text. The subtitles are ours.[iv]
Thus, Ottaviani came to the Antonianum with a prepared text. He did not, however, keep to his text and made off-the-cuff remarks at various intervals. A copy of the prepared text was issued to people present to hear the Cardinal speak. LDC noted a few places in its translation where the Cardinal’s viva voce differed from his prepared text. These notes were the other three footnotes and contained the prepared text (in French translation) with some commentary from LDC. In the amended text presented below, I kept these references as they provide a little more information.
As to the second point, how the French translation was made, note that LDC wrote in the first footnote that they possessed a recording of the Allocution. From this recording was made the French translation. For good measure, the editor(s) of LDC added subheadings on their own authority. Doing so aided the reader to gauge the specific focus at a given section of the Allocution.
The Italian Text of the Allocution:
At this time, it is good to say a few words about the Italian text. As stated earlier, it was published in the official Acta of PAMI. According to a footnote at the end of the first page, the Allocution was placed in the Archives of PAMI and given the protocol number 208/67. Additionally, in the copy that I received from the Fátima Sanctuary, there was a handwritten annotation added at the end of the document. This annotation was a bibliographic citation and is, in the present article, reproduced in an endnote.[v]
Also at the end of the Italian document was a note by the editor(s) of the Acta. This note relays that the transcription was made from the recording (registrazione) of the Cardinal’s discourse. It says:
Transcription made from the recording of the discourse of His Eminence and Most Reverend Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, Pro-Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, held on February 11, 1967 in the great hall “Maria Assunta” of the Pontifical Ateneo Antonianum, on the occasion of the Roman celebration organized by the Pontifical International Marian Academy in preparation for the V Mariological Congress and the XII International Mariological [Congress].[vi]
The above note is important as it clearly states that it is a transcription of the words of the Cardinal, including his off-the-cuff remarks. It is not a simple reproduction of his prepared text.
Lastly, a comment is necessary on the reliability of the Italian transcription. How faithful or accurate was the transcriptionist(s)? Was anything added, subtracted, or emended? At this time, the question of the reliability of the transcription cannot be addressed in full. An audio or video recording of good quality has not been provided to the public that can be used to check the accuracy of the transcription.
Despite this drawback, there is one thing that can be done in order to address, at least partially, this question. One can compare the Italian to the French translation, which also claims to be based upon a recording of the actual address. I have performed such a comparison and discovered that although some differences exist with respect to expression and some details, the two texts agree structurally in all but one place.[vii] Thus, there is strong evidence to support that the Italian and French texts are indeed based upon the remarks delivered viva voce by Cardinal Ottaviani.
The above having been said, the English translation of the Italian text of the Cardinal’s Allocution as presented in the Acta of PAMI is as follows. It is by no means official, or authoritative, and should be considered as a working document. In some more notable areas, I provide the Italian text in brackets. This was especially important in the areas where Ottaviani mentioned Blesseds Francisco and Jacinta Marto. The French text indicates that he called them the brother and sister of Sr. Lúcia. The Italian text does not make this claim.
Allocution of the Most Eminent Lord Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani
About the Question of the “Secret of Fátima”
If it is a secret, how could I reveal the Secret?
At any rate, I will address some questions that concern the “Secret of Fátima,” as Fr. Balic said very well […come ha detto benissimo il P. Balic].
The first time that I was in Fátima was in 1955. As I climbed the slope that would take me to the Cova da Iria, I was already edified by the piety, the spirit of sacrifice and prayer which so many children of the people gave me, going up the slope, burdened from the weight of carrying provisions and all that they needed to pass the holy night commemorating the event of October 13, 1917.
When I arrived up there, at the Cova da Iria, it seemed to me that I was entering my Mother’s house. I seemed to hear my mother say to me, “Prayer, penance!”
All these good people, the thousands upon thousands of people who passed the night outside in prayer and songs, songs and prayers, while the glow of thousands of candles lit up the large square in front of the Basilica, all these people truly gave me the impression that they understood well the spirit of the Message of Fátima.[viii]
The Most Holy Virgin, in setting her virginal foot on the land of the Cova da Iria and thereby sanctifying it, in her conversation with little Lúcia, confided to her three messages. One concerned Lúcia in her more intimate family sentiments […nei suoi sentimenti familiari più intimi…], the prediction that Francisco and [his] younger sister Jacinta will soon fly away to heaven [la predizione che Francesco e la sorellina Giacinta sarebbero presto volati nel cielo]. The prophecy was verified in a short time. There in the Basilica, now constructed in the Cova da Iria, on the right and left of the main altar, you see the tombstone of the place where the mortal remains of Jacinta and Francisco await the day of the glory of the resurrection while their souls are blessed in heaven. When I asked Lúcia what she wanted to say to the Holy Father, she had a sentiment that moved me, thinking to Francisco and his younger sister […ebbe un sentimento che mi commosse, pensò a Francesco e alla sua sorellina]: “Tell the Pope to advance quickly the cause of beatification.”
We hope that the wish of Lúcia will be fulfilled as soon as possible.
There, I was saying, in the Cova da Iria, it feels like being in the house of the Mother, as if to hear the voice of the Mother who repeats: Prayer and penance.
The world has lent its ear to the message of Lúcia, that message which is past the private aspect, the family, over to the part which concerned the whole world — the message invited to prayer and penance the entire world —, it contained the third part of those things the Most Holy Madonna confided. And these things had been confided not for herself [Lúcia], not for the world—at least for now—but for the Vicar of Jesus Christ.
And Lúcia has kept the secret. She has not spoken, as far as one tried to make her speak. Yes, “Secrets of Fátima” circulate that are attributed to her. Do not believe them! Lúcia has kept the secret.[ix]
Also, what did Lúcia do to obey exactly the Most Holy Virgin? She wrote on a sheet [of paper], in the Portuguese language, that which the Holy Virgin had asked her to tell the Holy Father […quello che la Madonna le ha detto di dire al Santo Padre].
The message was not to be opened before 1960. I asked Lúcia, Why? — The why of this date. And she replied to me, “Because then it will appear ‘mas claro’ (more clear).” This is what makes me think that the Message was of a prophetic tone, precisely because in prophecy—as seen in Sacred Scripture—there is the veil of mystery. Prophecies are not in a generally open language, clear, comprehensible to all. Exegetes are today still interpreting prophecies of the Old Testament. And what to say, for example, of the prophecies contained in the Apocalypse? Indeed, [Lúcia] said, in 1960 it will appear more clear.
The envelope containing the “Secret of Fátima” was given closed to the Bishop of Leiria, and, although Lúcia said he could read it, he did not want to read it. He wanted to respect “the Secret” out of reverence for the Holy Father. He sent it to the Apostolic Nuncio, then Msgr. Cento, today Cardinal Cento, who is present, and who faithfully handed it to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who had requested it, to avoid that something so delicate, destined not to be given to the public […destinata a non esser data in pasto al pubblico…], should, for whatever reason, even fortuitous, come into foreign hands. “The secret” came; it arrived carried to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, and, closed, as it was, was given to John XXIII. The Pope opened it, opened the envelope, and read it. And, although in Portuguese, he afterwards said to me that he had understood entirely the text. Then he himself put in another envelope “the Secret,” sealed it, and sent it in one of those archives that are like a well, into which goes down deep the paper […nel quale va giù la carta profonda…], black, black, and no one sees anything. Therefore, it is difficult to say where “the Secret of Fátima” might be now.
However, what is important, and what needs to be imparted to the world is that which is contained in the public Message, has become universal, spread throughout the world and, thanks be to God, received with attention by the entire world. It is another thing then to know if the whole world has put it [the message] into action, according to the desires of the Most Holy Madonna who has exhorted us to prayer and penance to avoid those sanctions that in the divine book of Providence are expected for a world that corresponds so badly to the gifts of the Lord’s grace.
To guard Lúcia better — because you can imagine how many journalists, also how many good priests who had the desire to write something on the “Secret of Fátima” went to tempt her — she retired to the convent; Lúcia was truly exemplary in this matter, she did not speak.
Do not believe those who say that they have heard this or that from Lúcia. I who had the grace and gift to read the text of the Secret – though I am secretive as well because I am bound by secrecy – I can say that everything that circulates — a few days ago, a provincial newspaper spoke of the text and gave the text of the “Secret of Fátima” — is fantasy. You can be quite sure that the real Secret is kept in such a way that no one can set eyes upon it. Therefore, nothing else remains so act according to that which is public [Dunque non rimane altro quindi che regolarsi secondo quello che è pubblico]. The public Message of Fátima is what matters. The secret matters, this matters to the Holy Father to whom it was destined. He was the recipient [Importa « il Segreto », importa questo al Santo Padre a cui era destinato. Egli era il destinatario]. And if the recipient has not decided to say, “This is the moment to reveal it to the world”, we must stick to his wisdom who has wanted it kept secret.
But what matters, as I said, is that we know to conform our life, our actions and our activities to that which is the spirit of the public Message, because Lúcia was charged not only to transmit to the Pope the Secret Message […perché Lucia fu incaricata non soltanto di mandare al Papa il Messaggio Segreto…] but also to publish and make known to all the world the public message, a message which is contained in these words: prayer and penance.
It was the repetition of these [words] that the Madonna had already said in Lourdes. Today, as we commemorate the feast of the apparition of the Most Holy Virgin in Lourdes, we need to unite these two manifestations of the goodness of Mary who descended from heaven, and put her virginal foot on the earth to sanctify it and also to guide it towards better paths. We must seek to ensure, with our actions, prayers, our example, with all Christian virtue that we ought to exercise, in a special way with prayer and with penitence, to make the Message of Fátima have the effects for which it was commissioned [mandato] to the world.
It was also underlined the connection of the Message of Fátima with the conditions of the Church in certain regions where she feels the weight of persecutions, where people fight against religion.
This is the Message there, — first in that public aspect — It is the message also of hope, of conversion, and this too can be hastened by the prayers of all the devoted ones of the Most Holy Virgin of Fátima.
Yes, on this day precisely in which we celebrate a Marian feast, that of the apparition in Lourdes, we must turn to the Immaculata, who appeared in Fátima as in Lourdes, because she gives to the world the consolation to see realized the wishes that are in the heart, in the mind, in the prayer, in the breath and sigh of every Christian.
It is quite true that persecution still exists. There are still some countries that are under the heel of the persecutor, the despot. There are some regions that are annihilated, scattered with scaffolds, the cross and prisons – prisons that are sanctified by many martyrs – but we must hope.[x]
Already certain signs, like the dawn — I wish to say — of new situations, are beginning to emerge. Maybe I am optimistic, but it seems to me that the Most Holy Madonna inspires us to have faith [fiducia]. If she descended from heaven, sanctified with her virginal foot the lands of France and Portugal, as well as so many other lands where she appeared, then she also did it to encourage us.
We hope that the signs which are in conformity with this hope that one can have from the Message of Fátima, because if the Madonna appeared, she certainly appeared to tell us that we may have to suffer – as she had predicted the sufferings of the war of which we all were witnesses and victims — but she was also here in the world to give hope.
She is the mother of faith. We all know to invoke her as mother, “the entire reason of my hope, my trust.” Well, since she gives us this hope, let us pray that she may obtain that which is in the heart, in the desire of all that the Reign of Christ may soon come “your Kingdom come”; the Reign of Christ, in the peace of Christ.
The telltale signs that are already in some clues of evolution in certain countries [I segni rivelatori ci sono in alcuni indizi già di evoluzione in certi paesi…], of the successes of this ecumenism, that always brings peoples closer together, including those who are not Catholics, but rightly claim the Christian name […di successi di quell’ecumenismo, che affratella sempre più i popoli anche di quelli che non sono cattolici, ma si vantano e giustamente si vantano del nome cristiano…] — the signs of acceptance of all the actions that the Holy Father does for peace — just yesterday he was saying to me […proprio ieri mi diceva…], naturally with the reserve that I must keep — of other additional steps most recently taken in these days to facilitate the solution to the Vietnam conflict. If, as I say, there are so many signs that are given to hope that the Most Holy Virgin on this 50th anniversary of the events of Fátima, will wish to give some sign of her kindness for her children, she will want to give some new hope to the Christian world, then we must say: let us welcome this patronage of the Most Holy Madonna; let us hasten the fulfillment with prayer.
And then we can say that the Madonna tells us from Fátima: “raise your heads — raise, raise your head — for your redemption is at hand.”
And our response is with a cry, Fiat! Fiat!
[i] La Documentation Catholique, 19 mars (1967), T. 64, numéro 1490, columns 541-546.
[ii] Indeed, in all the literature that I have seen (and this is, admittedly, a subjective observation), the Italian text is never mentioned. A Portuguese translation was provided in the short-lived periodical Fatima 50 (Year 1, No. 7, November 13, 1967), pages 14-16. It was prefaced by some remarks from the Fátima archivist Fr. Joaquín María Alonso, C.M.F. Concerning how the Portuguese translation came about, Fr. Alonso wrote:
We offer to our readers a faithful and almost literal translation [of the Allocution]. There are certain expressions that we would like to write for Portuguese but we prefer to let be the taste of the original idiom, which was made on the literal Italian text captured on magnetophone tape under the authority and responsibility of the Pontifical International Marian Academy of Rome…(Oferecemos aos nossos leitores a tradução fiel e quase literal — daí certas expressões que gostaríamos de escrever à nossa maneira de tradutores correctos para o português mas que preferimos deixar com o sabor do idioma original e que foi feita sobre o texto literal italiano captado em fita magnetofónica sob a autoridade e responsabilidade da Pontifícia Academia Mariana Internacional de Roma em cuja sede foi pronunciado).
[iii] I was attending the Mariological Congress and only had so much spare time.
[iv] The original French text reads as follows:
Nous avons traduit ce discours d’après l’enregistrement au magnétophone du discours du cardinal. Un texte écrit avait été remis à la presse (beaucoup plus court), mais le cardinal Ottaviani, dont la vue est très faible, a parlé sans texte, de sorte que le texte prononcé est sensiblement différent du texte écrit. Nous indiquons en note quelques passages du texte écrit qui ne se retrouvent pas dans le texte prononcé.
Les sous-titres sont de notre rédaction.
[v] The note reads as follows: « Acta Pontificiae Academiae Marianae Internationalis vel ad Academiam quoquo modo pertinentia », Romae, 4, p. 44-49 (Data da introdução “Ad lectorem”, 25.03.1967.
[vi] The Italian text reads:
(Trascrizione effettuata da registrazione del discorso di Sua Em.za Rev.ma il Card. Alfredo Ottaviani, Proprefetto della S.C. della dottrina della fede, tenuto l’11 Febbraio 1967 nell’Aula Magna « Maria Assunta » del Pont. Ateneo Antoniano, in occasione della celebrazione romana, organizzata dalla Pont. Accademia Mariana Internazionale in preparazione al V Congresso Mariologico e XII Mariano Internazionale).
[vii] It is my hope to provide a more comprehensive study on this matter to the general public at some future point in time.
[viii] [LDC Note:] We read in the written text: “This immense crowd in prayer did not ask to know the mysterious secret of Fatima. It was already in possession of the most essential secret, one that is engraven in the soul of anyone reading attentively the Gospel—the secret of the scale [ladder?] of heaven, whose degrees are called prayer and penance (Nous lisons dans le texte écrit: “Cette immense foule en prière ne demandait pas à connaître le mystérieux secret de Fatima. Elle était déjà en possession du secret le plus essentiel, celui qui est gravé dans l’âme de quiconque lit attentivement l’Évangile: le secret de l’échelle du ciel, dont les degrés s’appellent prière et pénitence”).
[ix] [LDC Note:] The written text: We had to defend the visionary, who became a religious, to escape from the curiosity of the world in a Carmelite monastery in Coimbra where, more than from devotion, the curiosity of many people has sought to draw from [Lúcia] a few words. Despite Lúcia’s reserve, these curious ones, eager for mysterious things, have thought to make deductions and have published apocryphal texts of the secret of Fatima, making it into legend. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had to forbid access to the Coimbra convent where Lúcia prays, remembers, meditates, but does not speak. We even created a Blue Army that gives an interpretation and a special tone to the mystery of the secret, this is to say a thing that one cannot interpret because one does not know.”
In his weekly press conference of February 23, 1967, Mgr. Vallainc declared that if, at the last moment, Cardinal Ottaviani decided not to name the Blue Army it is because he feared that mentioning it to a public that is very sensible to nuances might not go over too well. In other words, it might have been interpreted as a slight on the activities of the Blue Army, contrary to the intention of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (La Croix, 26-27 February, 1967) (Texte écrit: “On a dû défendre la voyante, devenue religieuse, et la soustraire à la curiosité du monde dans un monastère de carmélites à Coimbre où, plus que la dévotion, la curiosité de nombreux profanes a cherché à tirer d’elle quelques paroles. Malgré la réserve de Lucia, ces curieux, avides des choses mystérieuses, ont cru pouvoir faire des déductions, de sorte que ça et là ont été publiés des textes apocryphes du secret de Fatima transformé en légende. La Congrégation pour la doctrine de la foi a dû interdire aux profanes et aux curieux l’accès du couvent de Coimbre où Lucia prie, se souvient, médite, mais ne parle pas. On a même créé une Armée bleue qui donne une interprétation et un ton spéciaux au mystère du secret, c’est-à-dire à une chose qu’on ne peut pas interpréter parce qu’on ne la connaît pas.
Dans sa conférence de presse hebdomadaire, le 23 février, Mgr Vallainc a déclaré que si, à la dernière heure, le cardinal Ottaviani s’est décidé à ne pas nommer l’Armée bleue, c’est qu’il craignait que cette mention ne fût interprétée par un public peu sensible aux nuances, comme un blâme des activités de l’Armée bleue, contrairement à l’intention de la Congrégation pour la doctrine de la foi, [La Croix, 26-27 février 1967]).
[x] [LDC Note:] We read in the written text: “We spoke much about links between the secret of Fatima and the formidable and agonizing situation of the Church in the numerous regions of the world. [In these regions is] where hell unleashed its wrath against all that is holy and divine, and where the persecutor—even if he wears the gloves of diplomacy and employs honeyed language of peace—tries to extend on the entire world a domination that he already has over vast territories, spread the cross, scaffolds, and prisons sanctified by many martyrs.
But the trust which is inspired by the message of Fatima (also in the public part) makes us scrutinize, in this second half of the 1960s, in a serene abandon to Providence, the first clue—although still unclear—of a future establishment of the things of the world in the peace and kingdom of Christ” (On lit dans le texte écrit : “On a beaucoup parlé de liens entre le secret de Fatima et la situation redoutable et angoissante de l’Église dans de nombreuses régions du monde où l’enfer a déchaîné son ire contre tout ce qui est saint et divin, et où le persécuteur – même s’il prend les gants de la diplomatie et emploie le langage mielleux de la paix – essaie d’étendre sur le monde entier une domination qu’il exerce déjà sur des territoires immenses, semés de croix, d’échafauds et de prisons sanctifiées par tant de martyrs.
“Mais la confiance dont est inspiré le message de Fatima, également dans la partie publique, nous fait scruter, en cette deuxième partie des années 1960, dans un serein abandon à la Providence, les premiers indices – bien qu’encore nébuleux – d’une future instauration des choses du monde dans la paix et le royaume du Christ”).