In one year, starting in March 2020, the secret archives of Pope Pius XII’s pontificate will be made available to the public, announced Pope Francis on March 4, 2019.
The Argentinian pontiff received the heads of the Vatican Secret Archives on March 4, 2019, two days after the 80th anniversary of Eugenio Pacelli’s election to the sovereign pontificate.
Born in Rome in 1876, Pius XII became pope after a conclave that only lasted one day. The first years of his pontificate were marked by the beginning of World War II.
An artificially fabricated and well-maintained black legend clings to his reign; accusing the pope of guilty “silence” in the face of the atrocities of Hitler’s regime.
There are an enormous number of documents on Pius XII’s pontificate, several million leaflets. Cataloguing these archives systematically is a gigantic task that was begun 13 years ago and has nearly been completed.
During the audience on March 4th, the Holy Father spoke of Pius XII who
guided the Barque of Peter in one of the saddest and darkest moments of the 20th century, troubled and torn by the last world war, with the post-war period of reorganizing the nations and rebuilding.
Deploring the fact that Pope Pacelli’s pontificate has often been “widely discussed and even criticized” in the past, Pope Francis remarked that the limited access to certain documents from the time granted to specialists has already made it possible to “correctly reevaluate the multiple aspects of this pontificate—the pastoral aspect in particular, but also the theological, ascetic and diplomatic aspects.”
He was probably referring to the publication of the 11 volumes of the Acts and Documents of the Holy See Relative to the Second World War, between 1964 and 1981, available on the Vatican’s official website. This edition revealed the admirable action of the angelic pastor during the war. It is quite certain that the secret archives soon to be made available will only confirm the greatness of Pius XII in this terrible adversity that was so well highlighted by Fr. Blet’s book, Pius XII and the Second World War.
“The Church is not afraid of history,” Pope Francis concluded, adding, “on the contrary, she loves it. (…) So, with the same confidence as my predecessors, I open this documentary heritage and entrust it to researchers.”