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Pope ready to open secret archives of Pius XII?

January 20, 2014

Pope Francis is likely to open the Vatican’s secret archives covering the pontificate of Pius XII before proceeding with the cause for beatification of the wartime Pontiff, according to an Argentinean Jewish leader.

Rabbi Abraham Skorka, a longtime friend of the Pontiff, told the London Times that he had discussed the case of the controversial Pope Pius XII during a recent stay with Pope Francis at the Vatican. While declining to say exactly what the Pope had told him, Rabbi Skorka said that “I believe that, Yes, he will open the archives.”

Jewish leaders have pressed for years for the opening of the Vatican archives covering the era of World War II and the Holocaust. Material in those archives, they say, could shed new light on the charges that Pope Pius XII was indifferent to the slaughter of Jews by the Nazi regime. To date the available evidence has shown that the Pope worked quietly to save Jews from the Holocaust.

While Jewish leaders welcomed the (unconfirmed) report that the historical documents would soon be made available, the curator of the Vatican’s secret archives warned that “it could still take another year and a half” before the thousands of documents from the World War II era are properly sorted and classified for scholarly access.

Rabbi Skorka—whose stay at the Domus Sanctae Marthae marked the first time that a modern Pontiff has had a rabbi as his overnight guest—is the co-author of On Heaven and Earth, written with Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio while he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires. In that book the future Pope said that calls for the opening of the secret archives were “reasonable,” so that “everything be cleared up.”


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  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Jan. 20, 2014 3:10 PM ET USA

    There should be no rush to canonize anyone; a year or two this way or that can hardly make any difference. Pope Francis is wise to open these archives to scholarly investigation and to let the chips fall where they may. In my view, it is now those favoring Pius XII's canonization who seem to want everything wrapped up quickly before all the evidence is available. It's unseemly, almost as if they feared something deleterious might lurk in those files, a proposition I find doubtful but possible.

  • Posted by: Defender - Jan. 20, 2014 12:18 PM ET USA

    I can't help but feel that even after the archives are open, the anti-Pius XII forces will still resist his sainthood. Pius was universally mourned by Jewish leaders when he died, the rabbi of Rome converted to Catholicism and the overwhelming facts point to his saving many Jews. The pope shouldn't wait to declare Pius a saint - let Hochhuth's play stick in the craw of his detractors.