04 March 2010
Bishop Sergio Pagano, the prefect of the Vatican’s Secret Archives, has said it would take five years before the archives on the pontificate of war-time Pope Pius XII are cataloged and opened to historians. An estimated 16 million documents on Pius XII, who was pontiff of the Catholic Church from 1939 to 1958, are kept in the Vatican’s archives.
Jewish organizations, including the World Jewish Congress, and Catholic scholars have repeatedly called on the Vatican to open the secret archives covering the World War II period to clarify the role Pope Pius XII played during the Holocaust. Critics accuse him of turning a blind eye to Jewish suffering; the Vatican and other supporters say he worked behind the scenes to save Jews.
Recently, Pope Benedict XVI sparked controversy when he recognized the “heroic virtues” of his predecessor, one of the preconditions of beatification and later sainthood.
Pagano said the Vatican would be willing to open its archives immediately since there was nothing to "fear" from them, but the documents still had to be numbered, conserved, registered and ordered before they could be made accessible.
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