VATICAN CITY (CNS): The Vatican has announced it will open ahead of schedule part of its 20th century archives, including new documents on Vatican-German relations and Pope Pius XII’s efforts to help prisoners during World War II.
The Vatican described the move as an “exceptional gesture” by Pope John Paul II that should help put an end to “unjust and thankless speculation” – an apparent reference to accusations, strongly rejected by the Vatican, that Pope Pius XII and others did not do enough to stop the Nazi rise to power and the Holocaust.
The announcement came in a two-page statement on February 15 by officials of the Vatican Secret Archives and the Secretariat of State. For years, Jewish scholars in particular have pressed the Vatican to open its archives so experts could examine a more complete historical record from the period.
The Vatican usually makes the archival material of an entire pontificate available. This is done only after the passage of many years, in order to respect the rights of the people involved and to allow the material to be organised.