Here is the letter from Pope Pius XII to Hitler:

To the illustrious, Herr Adolf Hitler, Führer and Chancellor of the German Reich!

Here at the beginning of our pontificate we wish to assure you that we remain devoted to the spiritual welfare of the German people entrusted to your leadership. For them we implore God the Almighty to grant them that true felicity which springs from religion.

We recall with great pleasure the many years we spent in Germany as Apostolic Nuncio, when we did all in our power to establish harmonious relations between Church and State. Now that the responsibilities of our pastoral function have increased our opportunities, how much more ardently do we pray to reach that goal.

May the prosperity of the German people and their progress in every domain come, with God's help, to fruition!

Given this day, 6th March 1939, in Rome at St. Peter's in the first year of our pontificate.

Pope Pius XII

I wonder if the marked sentence requires a question mark. To my non-native ear, it lacks the question mark. Yet, I wonder if a higher rule is at work here, such as "there is no need for a question mark in a 'now that' sentence even if it asks a question". I know it sounds silly but I've come across so many things I was taught to be impossible to exist.

And, of course, it may well be a typo which might arise out of the Pope's being a non-native as well, and of miscopying of the letter in the sources I've found it, though latter of which I don't think being highly possible.

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    As a sidenote, the text seems to take some freedom in translation from the German text (cf. books.google.de/…) Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 14:49
  • This would, typically, have a question mark. I would say that there is a fault in the grammar of the emboldened sentence.
    – AJFaraday
    Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 15:29
  • 1
    it's emphatic. It's perfectly valid.
    – njzk2
    Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 17:40

1 Answer 1


Now that the responsibilities of our pastoral function have increased our opportunities, how much more ardently do we pray to reach that goal.

The bolded sentence contains an exclamation. It is not a question.

Alone on that lifeboat for five days on the open sea, how I longed for a drink of fresh water.

--How did you survive without water?

It rained on day three.

Notice in the question about surviving the tensed verb appears immediately after "how" : "How did..." In the exclamation, we have "How I..."

But in archaic literary style, we can find the verb where we would normally expect to find it in a question: "....how .... do we pray..." especially if it is preceded by an adverbial phrase.

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    Thank you for your answer. As far as I understand from your reply, the sentence in my question is in archaic style and not a question but an exclamation. Am I right? By the way, I'm sorry but I can't see an inversion in your question "How did you survive without water?" Are you sure that's an inverted sentence? Because if it's so, I'll most probably have to reviwe my entire learning in English.
    – A.K.
    Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 10:39
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    Yes, it is an exclamation and is in an archaic style. Compare Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice: "How much more elder art thou than thy looks!". With respect to the inversion: the tensed verb appears before the subject. We don't ask "*How you did survive?" but "How did you survive?"
    – TimR
    Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 10:50
  • See §4.6.1. (15) on page 110 here (books.google.com/…)
    – TimR
    Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 11:38
  • Oh, OK. Thanks to you, I've learned a new thing today. Thank you again.
    – A.K.
    Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 11:58

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