The Italian Almanac

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Vatican archives

Italian News - July 20

Pope Benedict has ordered that documents in Vatican archives relating to the pre-war pontificate of Pius XII be made accessible to the public. The archives which cover the 1922-1939 period will be available to historians and researchers from September 18, Vatican officials said. The documents will be of interest to the many historians studying the relations of the Vatican with countries in Europe and elsewhere in the lead-up to World War II.

The move was called for by the previous pope, John Paul II, in the last years of his pontificate. In 2003 the Vatican made public hundreds of secret documents seen as relevant to the decades-long controversy over the Catholic Church's reluctance to publicly denounce Hitler and the Holocaust.

Those documents dealt with the activities of papal diplomats in Berlin between 1922 and 1939 and covered the ten years in which Eugenio Pacelli, later Pope Pius XII, handled the Vatican's relations with Nazi Germany. The documents to be released in September will complete the picture of Vatican diplomacy in the 1930s.