Anni sacri

Anni sacri (March 12, 1950) issued on the twelfth anniversary of his coronation, is an encyclical of Pope Pius XII on a program combating atheism.

Anni sacri
Encyclical of Pope Pius XII
Signature date12 March 1950
Number16 of the pontificate

The encyclical states:

The war is over but peace has not yet arrived. The reason for this is, that unjust lies are substituted for truth. In some countries the press turns against religion and ridicules religious feelings. In many others, there is continued persecution of the Christian faithful. It is therefore necessary in this Holy Year 1950, to preach the truth and the true gospel of Christ.
Pope Pius XII calls for Church-wide efforts, to begin a veritable crusade of prayer among the faithful to implore suitable remedies for the present evils. He requests worldwide public prayers on March 26, Passion Sunday. The Pope will on that day descend into the Basilica of St. Peter to pray not only with the whole Catholic world. Those who, because of illness or old age or other reasons, cannot come to church, are requested to pray at home.[1]

Quotations from the encyclical

  • Although war has almost everywhere ceased, nevertheless, the longed-for peace has not come - a stable and solid peace which might happily solve the many and ever-increasing reasons for discord. Many nations are still opposed to each other; and as confidence lessens an armaments race begins, leaving the hearts of all overcome by fear and trepidation.[2]
  • Not only the greatest evil but the root of all evil is this: often the lie is substituted for the truth, and is then used as an instrument of dispute. On the part of not a few religion is passed by as a thing of no importance, and elsewhere absolutely prohibited in family and social life as a remnant of ancient superstitions; public and private atheism is exalted in such a way that God and His law are being abolished, and morals no longer have any foundation. The Press also too often vulgarly reviles religious feeling, while it does not hesitate to spread the most shameful obscenities, agitating and with incalculable harm leading into vice tender childhood and betrayed youth.[3]
  • We must above all deplore with overwhelming sadness that in not a few nations the rights of God, Church and human nature itself are outraged and trampled upon. Sacred ministers, even those invested with high dignities, are either driven from their proper Sees, exiled and imprisoned, or impeded in a manner preventing them from exercising their ministry. In the field of education, whether of lower or of university level, as well as in publications and the Press, permission to explain and defend the doctrine of the Church either is not given or is so restricted and subjected to such surveillance by official censorship that the arbitrary proposition that truth, liberty and religion must submissively serve only the civil authority seems to be the established principle.[4]
  • No one must be idle and lazy in the face of so many evils and dangers, while those in the other camp strive to destroy the very basis of Catholic religion and Christian worship. Let it never come to pass, that "the children of this world are wiser, than the children of light" (Luke xvi. 8); let it never be that the latter are less active than the former.[5]
  • With faith, love and hope, therefore, We address to Him Our prayers. May He then, especially during this Holy Year, benignly look down upon humanity, oppressed by so many misfortunes, assailed by so many fears and by waves of so many discords. And as one day, by His divine sign, He calmed the tempest on the Lake of Galilee, so today may He quieten human storms.[6]


  1. Anni sacri, 9
  2. Anni sacri, 2
  3. Anni sacri, 3
  4. Anni sacri, 5
  5. Anni sacri, 8
  6. Anni sacri, 13