I feel I [ought to] carry everyone in prayer, in a present that is God’s, where I recall every meeting, every voyage, every pastoral visit.

(The Huffinghton Post)

Why does the journalist have added "ought to" to the above Vatican Radio translation. Does the piece take a different meaning without "ought to"? If so, how are the two versions (with & without "ought to") different in meaning?

  • FWIW, Italian text is available at it.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/02/27/…
    – choster
    Feb 27, 2013 at 17:14
  • This is either A a translation issue, which you are better placed than most of us to answer - how would you translate the Italian text? - B a theological issue resting on the meaning of carry here. I'm not sure you'd characterize the author of this translation as a journalist; I doubt the Vatican leaves translation of papal statements to reporters at the radio station! Feb 27, 2013 at 17:37
  • @Stoney, thank you. I appreciate your observations, always. I am not a competent learner, but I like to follow pope facts on international press. However if I (have to) translate "Sento di portare tutti nella preghiera" from Italian to English I prefer the version without "ought to". But, since I'm not sure, I'm asking here to understand the difference between the two versions. Sorry, but I do not understand your last sentence: why do you doubt the Vatican leaves translations?
    – user114
    Feb 27, 2013 at 17:53
  • The entire world hangs on the Pope's every word. I am quite sure that official translations of the Pope's formal speeches are prepared in advance by the Secretariat of State, for dissemination by the Vatican Press Office. The variants reported in my answer seem to me confirm this. Feb 27, 2013 at 19:13

3 Answers 3


The Huffington Post has not added the phrase [ought to] to the VR translation, which as you may see at the VR site itself has the phrase, in brackets as the HP story reports it.

I note, however, that the VR Italian text (linked by choster in a comment to your question) has Benedict saying, shortly after he starts

Grazie di cuore! Sono veramente commosso! E vedo la Chiesa viva! E penso che dobbiamo anche dire un grazie al Creatore per il tempo bello che ci dona adesso ancora nell’inverno.

This does not (at this writing) appear in the VR translation; but it is reported in several newspapers and at the blog Whispers in the Loggia, where it is, significantly, enclosed in brackets just like the phrase [ought to]. The blog translates it as follows:

[Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am truly moved, and in you I see the church is alive! And I think we owe a word of thanks to the Creator for this beautiful weather that he gives us; the sun is here, even in wintertime!]

I conjecture that both of these are spur-of-the-moment interpolations by the Pope into the official text.


The sentence very much takes a different meaning if the "ought to" is included.

I feel I carry everyone in prayer, in a present that is God’s, where I recall every meeting, every voyage, every pastoral visit.

Without the "ought to", what he says is "I feel [that I do] carry everyone in prayer..." This means that the speaker feels they are currently and successfully carrying everyone in prayer, etc. They are confident that they are doing so.

I feel I ought to carry everyone in prayer, in a present that is God’s, where I recall every meeting, every voyage, every pastoral visit.

With the "ought to", the speaker is saying "I feel [I should] carry everyone in prayer..." Meaning the speaker thinks that they should start carrying everyone in prayer, but isn't currently doing so.

Now as to which is the correct translation, I agree with StoneyB that you're more qualified to determine that! But that's the difference between the two phrasings. I would guess from context that the "ought to" was not intended, but can't be sure.


Looking just at the grammar, I agree with WendiKidd: "I carry everyone in prayer" says that the speaker does indeed do this. "I ought to carry everyone in prayer" says that he doesn't but he believes he should.

I followed the link and read a little more of the context, and it appears that by "carry" here he does not mean "support": he's not saying that he supports or upholds everyone in the world with his prayers. Rather, he's saying that he carries his prayers to God. That is, everything that happens to him and everyone he meets, he talks to God about this. So leaving out the "ought to" doesn't turn it into a boast about how he is personally supporting the world or anything like that. It just means, he seeks God's help with everything. The "ought to" is probably technically correct, as it is unlikely that he really takes 100% of every concern he has and every person he meets to God, but in context the sentence works with or without.

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