Vatican’s World War II Archives Open to Scholars

Tags: Currents Catholic Church, Faith, Holocaust, Jewish, Media, Pope Francis, Pope Pius XII, Vatican, World News, World War II

Currents News Staff

March 2 marks a moment of truth for the Vatican, as the world waits to discover what is in the archives of Pope Pius XII. 

The archives contain several million letters, cables and documents relating to Pope Pius XII, pontiff during the World War II, who has been accused of not doing enough to help save people of Jewish faith during the Holocaust.

Menachem Rosensaft, executive director of the World Jewish Congress, said the opening of these archives is a “tremendous step forward.”

“I think we need to express our enormous gratitude and appreciation to Pope Francis for taking this step of relying on the verdict of history and handing over to scholars what is the last archive that remains to be explored,” he said.  

The reputation of Pope Pius XII has long been tainted by accusations that he remained silent in the face of the Holocaust.

Dr. Johan Ickx, head of Vatican secretary of state archives, said he has personally reviewed over one million documents, and the accusations against Pope Pius XII are unfounded.

“He was not at all silent, and all his nuncios in central Europe and also in the north of Europe were also actively doing nothing else than trying to save people, people – also jews – people – because that was one of their charges,” he explained. 

From March 2, scholars will be allowed into the Vatican archives to study the files

When Pope Francis decided to open these archives he said, “the Church is not afraid of history,” and that he hopes these files will shed light on what he calls the “hidden but active diplomacy” of Pope Pius XII during the war.

A group of Jewish scholars will also be among those studying the papers.

“We can’t rewrite history,” explained Rosensaft, “but history has to be written based on full evidence and that is what we’re looking for.”

This evidence is now available at the Vatican, waiting for history to be written.