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Vatican archives: papers of Pius XII available soon; book coming on Armenian genocide

July 05, 2011

The Vatican archives for the period of World War II and the pontificate of Pope Pius XII will be ready for scholars’ scrutiny within 2-3 years, according to the prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives.

During a July 5 press conference—called to announce plans for a public exhibition of treasured documents from the archives, Bishop Sergio Pagano told reporters that the task of sorting and cataloguing thousands of documents from the pontificate of Pius XII will soon be completed. At that point, he said, the Pope will decide whether or not to open the archives for public inspection.

Jewish leaders have pressed for the prompt release of files from the World War II era, saying that a thorough inspection of the Vatican records could resolve questions about the efforts by Pope Pius XII to oppose the Nazi regime and spare Jews from the Holocaust. Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have indicated that they, too, hoped that the documents could soon be released. But Vatican archivists have said that the sheer volume of material makes it difficult to respond quickly to requests for access.

Bishop Pagano revealed that the Vatican archives also important documents on the genocide of Armenians under Ottoman rule in the World War I era. These documents, which will soon be published in a single volume, cause an irrepressible sense of pain and horror,” Bishop Pagano said. The reports of inhuman brutality, he said, “make me ashamed to be a man.”


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