by Marcus Papadopoulos
November 6, 2008
ARCHIVAL material pertaining to the pontificate of Pius XII – the man known as “Hitler’s Pope” – will not be disclosed to the public within the next six or seven years, the Vatican has announced.
In response to a request by Rabbi David Rosen, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Department for Interreligious Affairs, who was received last weekend at the Vatican by Pope Benedict XVI, the Reverend Federico Lombardi said that while requests to make the wartime archive available were “understandable” it would take “six or seven years” to prepare the 16 million documents.
But Rabbi Rosen added that Benedict XVI would give “serious consideration” to his request not to proceed with the beatification of Pius XII, the penultimate step to canonisation, until the archives have been opened.
The papacy of Pius XII from 1939 to 1958 was extremely controversial and continues to plague the Vatican today.
The charge is that, in the view of historians of the Holocaust and in the words of one book on the subject, he turned a blind eye to murder by failing to speak out against or trying to prevent the Nazis exterminating millions of Jews, communists, homosexuals and gypsies.
Some Jewish human rights groups go further and say that Pius XII was anti-Semitic and the Roman Catholic church was complicit in the rounding up of victims.
Hitler’s Pope also enjoyed close relations with the Ustase regime in Croatia, a Nazi puppet state established after the German invasion of Yugoslavia in 1941, and its leader Ante Pavelic.
He was responsible for the murder of more than 500,000 Serbs, many at the notorious Jasenovac concentration camp.
The accusation against the Pope is that, again, he did nothing to stop the killing.
Despite these allegations Benedict XVI, who as Joseph Ratzinger joined the Hitler Youth in 1941, last month marked the 50th anniversary of the death of Pius XII with a pontifical mass commemorating his papacy.