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The secrets of World War II and Pope Pius XII to be released in 2020

Seems the world will be learning a lot soon about World War II-era and Pope Pius XII as Francis announces Vatican opening of secret archives come 2020.

Pope Francis said that the criticisms of  Pope Pius XII had sometimes been prejudiced or exaggerated.

According to CNN, this archives cover the years 1939-1958 and consist of several hundred thousand letters, cables and speeches. Critics of Pius say he did not do enough to publicly combat the rise of fascism in Germany and Italy. Supporters say he worked diligently behind the scenes to save Jews from the Holocaust.

"I am sure that the serious and objective historical research will know how to evaluate it in the right light," the Pope said.

"I take this decision having heard the advice of my closest collaborators, with a serene and trusting heart," he added. ""The Church is not afraid of history, on the contrary, it loves it."

The documents from the pontificate are not only kept in the Secret Archives, but also in archives of different Vatican offices such as the Secretariat of State and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, according to the Prefect of the Secret Archives, Bishop Sergio Pagano.

All Vatican offices will open their archives to qualified researchers on March 2, 2020.

"Without doubt, even moments of great difficulty, of tormented decisions of Christian and human prudence, that to some could have seemed like reticence, were instead attempts, humanly very difficult, to keep the light of humanitarian initiatives, of hidden but active diplomacy lit, in periods of greatest darkness and cruelty, in the hope of a possible opening of hearts," Francis said.

In 2004, Pope John Paul II opened the archives for the Vatican Office of Information for Prisoners of War (1939-1947) containing more than 2,000 archival "units" and nearly as many boxes of documents, according to Pagano.

Commenting on the situation, Rabbi David Rosen, an American Jewish Committee's international Director of Interreligious Affairs, says, "Pope Francis's decision to make these materials now fully open and available for international scholarly research is enormously important to Catholic-Jewish relations."

"It is particularly important that experts from the leading Holocaust memorial institutes in Israel and the United States objectively evaluate as best as possible the historical record of that most terrible of times -- to acknowledge both the failures as well as the valiant efforts made during the period of the systematic murder of six million Jews," Rosen concluded.

Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni, the chief rabbi of Rome, also says, "better late than never." But ask an important question, "Will all the existing documents be made available?"

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, said it has enjoyed a "cooperative relationship" with the Vatican archivists for more than a decade, when John Paul II allowed researchers access to collections relating to the rise of Nazism in Germany. But those archives only go up to 1939, the museum said in a statement.
"Since the end of World War II, scholars, Holocaust survivors, and others have asked important questions about the role of the Vatican and Pope Pius XII during the Holocaust,"

Holocaust Museum Director, Sara J. Bloomfield, says "It is long overdue for speculation to be replaced by rigorous scholarship, which is only possible once scholars have full access to all of these records. This is important for the sake of historical truth, but there is moral urgency too: we owe this to the survivor generation, which is rapidly diminishing."

The archives will be open to qualified researchers who must submit a request to view documents. All researchers must have a university degree or an equivalent university diploma. Clergy must possess a licentiate degree or PhD, the Vatican said.

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