Beginning on March 2, 2020, the Vatican archives are preparing to welcome dozens of researchers from around the world to study the documents from the war years of Pius XII's pontificate, which are not yet accessible.
Archbishop Sergio Pagano, prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Archives, confirmed to the Catholic News Service on January 13, 2020 that he had authorized access by 85 researchers to documents hitherto considered highly sensitive.
The first researchers will be ten American experts, including two from the one Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. The Vatican had already been collaborating with this memorial for more than ten years after Pope Benedict XVI authorized the early opening of documents relating to the pontificate of Pope Pius XI, who died in 1939.
“Then,” adds Msgr. Pagano, “we will welcome seven experts from Israel, 14 from Germany, 16 from Italy, 20 from Eastern Europe, including Russia, and the rest of France, Spain, and Latin America, all to study the Pius XII archives. But we expect an increase in requests after March 2.”
Since the reading rooms and staff of the archives currently cannot accommodate more than 60 people per day, access for the new arrivals will be distributed throughout the year.
It took more than 12 years to sort, organize, and catalog the enormous amount of information from the long pontificate of Pope Pius XII (1939-1958).
The Vatican thus hopes to highlight the indefatigable support and protection that the pope provided during the war to the most destitute: “If the study of all the historical documents is carried out in an objective and critical manner,” declares Msgr. Pagano, “in perhaps ten years, the pontificate of Pius XII will take on a new physiognomy, a remarkable pontificate which came at a critical moment in the history of the world.”