Date set for the opening of the Vatican secret archives

On March 2, 2020, Pope Francis will open the secret archives of the pontificate of Pius XII on the Second World War.

The announcement during the audience to the staff of the Vatican secret archives was, “The Church is not afraid of history, indeed it loves it.” And on the reading of the Pontificate, he said: “In the criticisms against Pius XII prejudices and exaggerations.”

Pope Bergoglio’s Tweet from March 4, 2019 said, “I decided that the opening of the Vatican Archives for the Pontificate of Pius XII will take place on March 2, 2020, exactly one year after the eightieth anniversary of Eugene Pacelli’s election to the Soglio di Pietro.”

Thus the Pope in the audience with his superiors, as well as the employees and collaborators of the Vatican Secret Archives, whose “constant and not slight commitment,” said Francesco, “allows me today, in memory of that significant anniversary, to announce my decision  to open to the consultation of researchers the archival documentation pertaining to the Pontificate of Pius XII, until his death, which took place at Castel Gandolfo on 9 October 1958.

Regarding the Pope’s decision, “I assume this decision,” the Pontiff explained, “having heard the opinion of my closest collaborators, with a serene and confident spirit, confident that the serious and objective historical research will be able to evaluate in its right light, with appropriate criticism, moments of exaltation of that Pontiff and, undoubtedly also moments of grave difficulties, of tormented decisions, of human and Christian prudence, which to some may have seemed reticence, and which instead were attempts, humanly even much fought, to keep on, in the periods of more thick darkness and cruelty, the flame of humanitarian initiatives, of hidden but active diplomacy, of hope in possible good hearts’ openings.

“The Church is not afraid of history, on the contrary, she loves it.”

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In explaining his decision, the Pope recalled that “the Church is not afraid of history; indeed, loves it and would like to love it more and better, as God loves it! So, with the same confidence as my predecessors, I open and entrust this documentary heritage to researchers.”

“While I thank you again for the work accomplished,” he added to the staff of the Vatican Secret Archives, “I wish you to continue the commitment to assist researchers – scientific and material assistance – and also in the publication of Pacellian sources that will be deemed important, as you have already been doing for some years.”

The Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI) is good to reconstruct the role of the Church during the Holocaust, stating, “We welcome with great appreciation the decision of Pope Bergoglio to open the secret archive related to the figure of Pius XII. It is positive that we want to make this opening, because it will give way to all those that deal with research to access material of unpublished interest to be able to reconstruct with even more clarity the position of the Church also in the period of the Shoah.”

This was underlined by the president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, Noemi Di Segni, and also the president of the Jewish community of Rome, Ruth Dureghello, who commented on the news: “The hope now is that we can clarify the role played by Pius XII during the Second World War.”

“Unfortunately we will have to wait for 2020, in a year and a half,” he underlined. “Better late than never. It is positive news from which we hope to obtain clarity on that historical period and on the role played by the Pope.”

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