VATICAN CITY (RNS) — After opening its trove of Pius XII’s papers to students in 2020, the Vatican is making accessible to the general public virtually 40,000 recordsdata containing appeals by Jews fearing Nazi persecution for assist from the wartime pope. The choice, introduced Thursday (June 23), follows stories by researchers and lecturers suggesting that the controversial pope prioritized Catholic lives over Jews’.
The info, organized in 170 volumes underneath the succinct title “Jews,” can be accessible to all at no cost on the official web site of the Historic Archive of the Vatican Secretariat of State. The paperwork can be displayed digitally with an outline of the Vatican worker who learn the pleas for assist.
Solely 70% of the fabric is offered on-line instantly, with the next volumes being offered as soon as they’re prepared.
Researchers have had entry to those recordsdata in particular person since March 2020, however the pandemic shut down or slowed their efforts to make clear what’s a controversial chapter in Catholic historical past.
Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican’s equal to overseas minister, mentioned the archival materials “will permit the descendants of those that requested for assist to search out traces of their family members from any a part of the world.”
The archive incorporates greater than 2,700 instances of requests for assist, usually by whole households or teams.
The Vatican took pains to indicate that Pius was attentive to their pleas, describing the voluminous archive of names of Jews who requested for assist as “Pacelli’s Checklist,” utilizing Pius’ household identify to attract a parallel with “Schindler’s Checklist,” the trouble by the German industrialist to save lots of Jews from the Holocaust:
“Though the 2 instances differ, the analogy completely expresses the concept folks within the corridors of the establishment on the service of the Pontiff, labored tirelessly to offer Jewish folks with sensible assist,” the Vatican announcement learn.
The Vatican’s overseas affairs workplace on the time appointed Monsignor Angelo Dell’Acqua to supervise and supply help to these requesting diplomatic assist, Thursday’s announcement mentioned.
Among the many appeals obtained by the Vatican had been requests for visas and passports, asylum alternatives, assist in discovering misplaced relations, assist in altering or leaving focus camps in addition to monetary and religious help. The Vatican mentioned it offered help to Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
“The requests would arrive on the Secretariat of State, the place diplomatic channels would attempt to present all the assistance doable, considering the complexity of the political state of affairs within the world context,” Gallagher mentioned within the assertion.
Pius headed the Catholic Church from 1939 to 1958, and his failure to publicly denounce Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime have made him among the many most generally criticized pontiffs in fashionable instances. Defenders of the pope, who’s in line to be canonized as a saint, declare that Pius labored tirelessly to assist Jews by providing them refuge in monasteries and even throughout the Vatican’s partitions.
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Researchers from the College of Münster, Germany, who first started finding out the Vatican archives quickly after they had been opened, have expressed skepticism in regards to the Catholic Church’s methodology in presenting the documentation.
In a brand new ebook by historian David Kertzer, “The Pope At Conflict: The Secret Historical past of Pius XII, Mussolini, and Hitler,” Pius is portrayed as prioritizing saving the lives of Catholics. Kertzer traces an internet of backdoor offers and understandings with Hitler and his genocidal regime.
Pope Francis, who has a historical past of dialogue and friendship with Jewish thinkers and philosophers, has pushed for the archives to be opened to everybody on-line. On Monday, Francis met with members of the Simon Wiesenthal Heart, a Holocaust remembrance group, which gave him a replica of the letter wherein Hitler first laid out his imaginative and prescient of the mass homicide of Jews.
In 2016, Francis visited in silent prayer the Auschwitz-Birkenau focus camp, in what’s now Poland.
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