Vatican wartime archives ready for invasion of scholars

Scholars review materials in the Vatican Apostolic Archives (CNS/Vatican Apostolic Archives)

After decades of anticipation, the Vatican archives are ready to welcome scores of scholars wishing to study documents related to the wartime pontificate of Pope Pius XII. Source: NCR Online.

By Carol Glatz, CNS via NCR Online

All 85 researchers who have requested access have been given the green light from March 2 to come and sift through all the materials from the period of 1939 to 1958, Bishop Sergio Pagano, prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Archives, told CNS.

Coming from at least a dozen countries, the first wave of researchers includes 10 experts from the United States, including two from the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. The museum has been working with the Vatican archives for more than a decade, Bishop Pagano said, ever since Pope Benedict XVI authorised the early opening of materials pertaining to the pre-World War II pontificate of Pope Pius XI.

So far, Bishop Pagano said, seven experts will be coming from Israel, 14 from Germany, 16 from Italy, 20 from Eastern Europe, including Russia, and the rest from France, Spain and Latin America to study the Pius XII-era archives.

“But we expect an increase in requests after March 2,” he added.

While the reading rooms and archive personnel can accommodate and assist a maximum of 60 people a day, the newcomers’ access will be staggered out over the year, he said, allowing the many academics currently pursuing other topics to continue their work. The archive’s records and artefacts date back more than 1,000 years. and fill more than 80 kilometres of shelving.

It took more than 12 years to sort through, organise and catalogue the enormous quantity of information from Pius XII’s long pontificate, Bishop Pagano said; documents from the time period also were collected from the archives of the Vatican Secretariat of State, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Vatican nunciatures around the world.

Bishop Pagano said he hoped there would be in-depth research into the critical and huge amount of aid the Pope gave to those desperately in need during and after the war.


Open source: Vatican wartime archives ready for new batch of scholars (NCR Online

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