The Vatican’s archives on the pontificate of Venerable Pius XII will become available for study March 2, possibly bringing to light new information about the pope’s actions during World War II.
Vatican archivists have said, however, that they do not expect any immediate surprises to emerge.
It is for the researchers to explore these questions, probably taking years “to make a historical judgement,” Bishop Sergio Pagano, prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Archive, said Feb. 20.
He said “we believe that the new documents that open in different archives of the Holy See will better clarify, deepen, and contextualize, different aspects of the pontificate” of Ven. Pius XII.
Cardinal José Tolentino Calaça de Mendonça, archivist and librarian of the Vatican, said the Church welcomes the research that will take place. “We should have the patience to wait and listen,” he said.
The Vatican Apostolic Archive, formerly called the “secret archive”, is an office which preserves documents and books of historical and cultural importance to the Church and to the world. Since 1881 the archive has been open to qualified researchers on request.
Scholars have had access to documents through the papacy of Pius XI, which ended February 1939.
In 2019, Pope Francis announced that starting March 2, accessibility would be extended from March 1939 to October 1959, the end of the pontificate of Ven. Pius XII.
The complete catalog is expected to include approximately 16 million documents. The smaller archives of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Secretariat of State’s section for relations with states will also be opening to scholars.
The archive has received requests for access from more than 150 scholars from around the world, Pagano said. A maximum of 60 people may enter per day, he noted, “so we foresee that we will have a very weighty year of work.”
Read more at National Catholic Register