Benedict XVI opens the archives of the pontificate of Pius XI.

Source: FSSPX News

Benedict XVI decided to open the whole of the archives of Pius XI’s pontificate, for the period of February 6, 1922 through February 10, 1939, the decision will take effect on September 18, 2006 after the summer break.

"Such a measure was already desired by the late pontiff John Paul II", specified the note signed by Msgr. Sergio Pagano, prefect for the Vatican Secret Archives, and by Msgr. Marcel Chappin, in charge of the Historical Archives of the Secretary of State.

The Vatican Secret Archives are the pope’s private archives, this means that he alone is the ruling authority and thus he decides the date for their opening. Since they have been opened to researchers, according to the decision of pope Leo XIII (1878-1903), the Secret Archives’ volume has been multiplied 15 times: today, they occupy over 80 km of shelves.

The documents can be consulted in the workrooms of the Vatican Secret Archives by anyone who has a diploma of the third university cycle and whose works justify such a consultation. The documents can be consulted publicly once they have been inventoried, numbered, stamped with the coat of arms of the archives and lastly bound. It must be noted that the documents concerned with diplomacy for the 15th and 16th centuries have not yet been inventoried.

The law sets a minimum of 50 years after the end of the facts and a maximum of 100 years for the most "sensitive" documents before the archives may be opened. However, some documents "have by their very nature a sensitive and secret character and are not available for consultation" (unless there is a derogation), even if the period they refer to is opened for consultation. Such is the case for the documents designated by the Secretary of State, the acts of the conclaves, the spoglio (private documents) of the popes and cardinals, episcopal cases, documents concerning the internal forum, the staff of the Holy See and of the State of the Vatican City, as well as marriage cases.