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Catholic World News News Feature

Vatican Archivists Rush to Declassify WWII Documents February 20, 2002

VATICAN, Feb 20, 02 (CWNews.com) -- The Vatican archives relating to relations with Germany during the pontificate of Pope Pius XI, from 1922 to 1939, will be opened by the beginning of next year.

Vatican archivists have released a statement saying that they will open the archives ahead of schedule in response to an "extraordinary" request from Pope John Paul II. The papal request, they added, was intended "to put an end to unjust and thoughtless speculation."

Pope John Paul had previously ordered the opening of all archives for the period up to 1922: the end of the pontificate of Pope Benedict XV. As a long-standing matter of policy, the Vatican opens archives very slowly, to protect the confidentiality of documents that might involve living persons. The complete archives for the pontificate of Pius XI are not currently scheduled to become available to the public until 2005.

Pope John Paul has also asked for extra efforts to allow access to the Vatican archives concerning relations with German under Pope Pius XII (1939- 1958), to those covering the Vatican's handling of prisoners of war after World War II.

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