Four things to know about the Vatican archives on Pope Pius XII



About Vatican archives on Pope Pius XII: For decades, historians and Jewish organizations demanded the opening of the Vatican archives on the pontificate of Pope Pius XII.
Four things to know about the Vatican archives on Pope Pius XII

For decades, historians and Jewish organizations demanded the opening of the Vatican archives on the pontificate of Pope Pius XII.

Vatican City. - The opening on March 2 of the Vatican archives on the pontificate of Pope Pius XII (1939-1958), 81 years after his election, had been claimed for decades by historians and Jewish organizations.

These are the four main elements to understand the opening of the archives, AFP said.



Holocaust: archives already published

The Vatican has already published much of the most delicate archives about World War II. That is why spectacular revelations are not expected. But researchers will have direct access for the first time to all the documents of the Holocaust period and will look for the missing pieces of the puzzle.
To respond to the controversy about Pius XII, which began in the 1960s with the launch of the play "The Vicar" by the German Rolf Hochhuth, four Jesuit priests delivered in 1981, after 16 years of work, eleven volumes of titled documents "Proceedings and documents of the Holy See concerning the Second World War".
A mixed Jewish-Catholic commission of six historians created in 1999 had to make a decision, but claimed more access to the Vatican archives and was dissolved in 2001.
  

The years before his election 
The Holy See has already published some 30,000 volumes of archives of the pontificate of Pius XI (1922-1939), his predecessor, thus providing information on Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, future Pius XII. The latter was appointed secretary of state (number two of the Vatican) in 1930. In 1933 he signed a concordat with Hitlerian Germany on relations between the German authorities and the Church.These archives also cover much of his long stay in Germany from 1917 to 1929 as a nuncio (ambassador of the Holy See), that is during Hitler's rise to power.


The church in defense of a "just"

The Catholic Church has always claimed that Pius XII contributed to the rescue of thousands of Jews by hiding them in religious institutions in Rome under German occupation. He also believes that the Pope's prudence prevented reprisals against Catholics in Europe.
The beatification process of Pius XII was opened in October 1967. Benedict XVI proclaimed it "venerable" at the end of 2009, the first step towards a beatification on the condition that a miracle be recognized, a decision that provoked protests from the Jewish organizations
In 2010, Benedict XVI claimed that Pope Pius XII had been "one of the great righteous, who saved more Jews than anyone." "Personally, he suffered a lot, we know that. He knew he had to talk and yet the situation prevented him," he said.
In 2014, Pope Francis said he had "a bit of existential hives" when he sees the attacks on Pius XII, "a great defender of the Jews," criticizing the attitude of the great Allied powers that could have bombed the railroad tracks that led to the concentration camps.
His detractors attack his silence
Many historians criticize the silent and very diplomatic Pius XII, a moral voice that could have penetrated among German Catholics, for never having explicitly condemned the extermination of the Jews by the Nazi regime.
He is also criticized for being silent when, on October 16, 1943, more than a thousand people from the Jewish community in Rome were arrested in raids in their neighborhood (the old ghetto), near the Vatican.
After this raid, the testimonies confirm that Jews were hidden in many Catholic institutions, but no written document proves that Pius XII had asked for it, critics say.
Many historians conclude that this pope condemned Hitler's anti-Semitism, but that it was also the product of a traditionally anti-Jewish Catholic teaching until the awareness of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). Therefore, the Jews were not the priority of this pontiff, concerned primarily with Catholics and totally opposed to communism.

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