Who and Why Needs Secrets From the Vatican Archives?

06.03.2019

Pope Francis promised to open the Vatican’s secret archives concerning World War II, citing God's love for history

The secret archives of the Roman Catholic Church, which during the last war was more afraid of Stalin than Hitler and pursued a very careful policy in order not to harm its “corporate” interests, will be opened on March 2, 2020. With such a promise, Pope Francis spoke to the staff of the Vatican Museum.

The pontiff timed this politically important event to the 80th anniversary of the election of Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli (1876-1958) to the papal throne, who took the name of Pius XII.

We are talking about the "military Pope", elected pontiff in February 1939. He was obliged in many respects to his election as an expert in Germany, where he worked for many years as a nuncio.

According to the pontiff, “serious and objective research” will allow to assess in a fair manner the difficult moments of the pontificate, the decisions made and to better understand the period when, at the time of atrocities, difficult attempts were made to support humanitarian initiatives, albeit secretly.

Where good intentions lead

And although the intentions of the pontiff are formally good, in fact, he lays a mine for his own church. One more thing - let us recall at least the support of the “pedophilic” investigations that demonized the clergy, or the calls to open the doors of Europe to illegal migrants from Asia and Africa.

Alas, under conditions when history has turned into politics and past events will be biased to judge from modern positions, nothing good will come of it. If there are serious claims, partly really exaggerated, to the policy of Pius XII, this will inevitably lead only to a new grand scandal.

After all, honest researchers will find in the person of Pius XII not a hero, but an intelligent, cautious politician-pope, most concerned about preserving the church in the fire of world conflict. And other “researchers” will see in him a “coward”, “anti-Semitic”, who, in order not to annoy Hitler, refused to publicly, loudly protest against the Nazi terror and genocide in Europe, helping instead individual Jews on a small scale and secretly - when they died millions, along with catholics from poland and many others. And he did not push away from himself the beloved Croatian children, loyal Catholics, turning a blind eye to the monstrous repressions of the Croatian fascists against the Orthodox Serbs. And some will recall Pius XII, even after the war, fearing the USSR, the Vatican helped high-ranking Nazis to cover their tracks, transporting them along the "rat paths" through Catholic Spain to Latin America to strengthen their anti-communist dictatorships.

Where will the main attack come from?

It should be noted that it is the Jewish communities that have been the loudest and have long been demanding the opening of secret Vatican archives. And if in the first post-war years in Jewish circles as a whole, the role of the Vatican and Pius XII as regards assistance to the Jews was positively appraised, now critical assessments prevail.

Pius XII is accused of “complicity,” an inability to publicly condemn the Holocaust, of which the Vatican, as in the leading member countries of the anti-Hitler coalition, was well known. Extracting to the world of God "secret" documents confirming this and indicating the attempts of Pius XII, without prejudice to the church he heads, to carry out backstage diplomacy in support of the victims of national socialist racism and genocide will only strengthen the already existing image of the pontiff-conformist.

The documents testifying that the Vatican, without publicizing it, interfered and saved, in particular, Bulgarian Jews, were already made public. If local authorities were willing to heed the Church, they very often did not approve of Nazi methods. At the individual level, ordinary Catholic priests, monks and nuns in all European countries helped those in distress. But in Slovakia, an ally of Germany until the last year of the war, the Vatican could not resist the deportation to the German death camps in the territory of occupied Poland for 80,000 Slovak Jews. Of course, there may had been objective reasons for this, but the world will look at it differently.

Meanwhile, Pope Pius XII as a pontiff has recently been very actively depicted as anti-Semitic.

He is also accused of not only not publicly intervening on the Poles, but also demanding that Warsaw hand over Danzig to Germany in order to avoid a war in Europe for the sake of a war with the USSR. And it is true. He is criticized for a Concord with Germany, concluded after Hitler came to power, although the future pope called the Germans "a noble and powerful nation that bad shepherds led astray and seduced by the ideology of racism."

Pius XII was not easy to deal with even with Benito Mussolini because of the anti-religious and republican views of the Italian fascist dictator, despite the Lateran agreements of 1929 that settled the Vatican’s relations with Italy.

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Thus, many modern researchers do not recognize that the policy of "neutrality" of the Vatican during the war years was forced. Therefore, the criticism of the atrocities of war and terror in encyclicals and diplomatic documents was streamlined. Now the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church as a whole will face claims on this matter. Will the “love of God for history” save the church from a new scandal? And if not, then who benefits?