Pius XII’s wartime archives on Holocaust opening

Pope Pius XII’s wartime archives will be opened, the Vatican has announced.

This will enable scholars to probe accusations that Pius turned a blind eye to the Holocaust.

They will find he helped Jews behind the scenes, Holy See officials say.

“I don’t think you will find a smoking gun,” Father Norbert Hofmann, the top Vatican official in charge of religious relations with Jews, says.

Jews have for many years been seeking transparency from the Vatican on its actions during the Holocaust.

Francis’s order to open the archives will allow historians and other scholars to examine them during the next few years.

Some Jews have long accused Pius, whose pontificate spanned 1939 to 1958, of doing little to help those facing persecution by Nazi Germany.

They say he failed to speak out forcefully against the Holocaust, in which around six million Jews were killed.

The Vatican denies these accusations.

They say Pius worked quietly to save Jews and thereby not worsen the situation for many others at risk, including Catholics in parts of Nazi-occupied Europe.

David Kertzer, a Brown University professor who will be examining the archives, has written several books about the papacy and the Jews.

He said scholars were indebted to the Vatican for making the archives available – and that it is necessary to keep an open mind about what might be found in them..

“But clearly there’s nervousness in the Vatican and among proponents of Pius XII, and the push to make him a saint, about what might come out of these archives,” he told Reuters.

“Pius saw his job as protecting the institutional Church and everything else was secondary.”

Pope Francis has said Pius has been treated with “some prejudice and exaggeration”.


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