The confidential documents from Pope Pius XII (1876-1958) will be disclosed in a week, drawing a great deal of attention to whether his tarnished reputation of acquiescing to the Holocaust will be redeemed. The controversial documents will be opened to public on March 2, which will mark the 81st anniversary of Pius’ pontification, the Newsweek reported on Sunday (local time).
Pius’ stint in the Vatican (1938-1958) overlaps with the duration of the Second World War. This led some Jews communities and historians to criticize him for turning a blind eye to the Nazi’s atrocities and lacking compassion to save the victims.
Some claim there is evidence that the pope knew about the Nazi’s plan for genocide. They argue Pius, who considered communism as the biggest threat to Europe, kept his silence because he considered Nazi Germany as the last bastion to stem the spread of communism in the continent.
Typically, the Vatican opens the archives of popes 70 years after the last year of their stint, and under this rule, the documents on Pius should be disclosed in 2028. During his visit to the Vatican’s Apostolic Archives in March last year, Pope Francis said the Church was “not afraid of history,” making the decision to open the archive earlier than expected, according to Reuters.
The Vatican expects that the disclosure of the archive will shed a new light on Pope Pius XII’s records. The Vatican maintained the stance that Pius helped the Jews secretly for fears of causing more trouble to them and offered a covert refuge in churches and convents.
Bishop Sergio Pagano, prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Archive, told Vatican News he believes the documents will prove “Pius XII's commitment to saving Jews.” He added that the documents included letters of thanks from Jews and other evidence that will dissipate suspicions about his silence.