Holocaust Museum: Open the Vatican Archives

Before beatifying Pope Pius XII, let the world see what’s inside the Vatican archives, officials say:

U.S. HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM STATEMENT ON POPE PIUS XII

At this time, as the possible canonization of Pope Pius XII moves forward, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum repeats its call for the opening of all wartime material from the Vatican archives, so that scholars can finally begin the important work of examining and evaluating this crucial aspect of history.

The response of Eugenio Pacelli (Pope Pius XII) to the policies of the National Socialist regime – notably his failure to condemn publicly the genocide of the European Jews – has long been the topic of debate and controversy. At the time of the Holocaust, questions about Pius XII’s public silence were raised by Myron Taylor, the U.S. representative to the Vatican, and Taylor’s assistant Harold Tittman, who requested that the Holy See speak out on the issue.

The debate about Pius XII concerns both historical facts and larger moral questions. An understanding of his response to the murder of Europe’s Jews and the moral evaluation of his actions depend upon solid historical research. Such research will be possible only when all Vatican archival material from 1933 – 1945 is completely open and available to scholars of all disciplines. While the Museum has copies of some Vatican records prior to 1939 and there are other relevant archives, the opening of the post-1939 archival material is essential to a proper assessment of Pius XII. Only then will a sound and accurate portrait of his moral leadership during the Holocaust be possible.

A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum was created to inspire leaders and citizens to confront hatred, prevent genocide, promote human dignity and strengthen democracy. Federal support guarantees the Museum’s permanence, and donors nationwide make possible its educational activities and global outreach. For more information, visit www.ushmm.org.

Updated: December 21, 2009 — 12:50 pm

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  1. I think the book “Hitler’s Pope” tells us about all we need to know about the dear departed Pius XII’s role in the holocaust, and his anti-semitic behavior much earlier. It would also be interesting to see what his response was to the problem — which had surfaced before his death in 1958 — of pedophile priests. By 1954, such priests were regularly sent to a facility in New Mexico operated by the Servants of the Paraclete, an organization originally founded to help alcoholic priests. One wonders how much Pius XII knew, and how much of the coverup he personally approved. We do know that his successor, John XXIII personally signed an order requiring all cases of sexual misconduct by priests to be kept secret: I would imagine the same rule was in place during Pius’ reign.

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