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Holocaust museum urges Vatican archives

The U.S. Holocaust museum urged the Vatican to delay a vindication of Pope Pius XII until it opens up its World War II archives.

In a statement Wednesday, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum referred to “recent indications” that the Vatican would arrive at “definitive conclusions” about the wartime pope’s activities.

For years, a process has been underway that may lead to Pius XII’s canonization. The Vatican long has denied reports that the pope withheld efforts to protect European Jews as a means of protecting the church from the Nazis, both during his papacy and when he was a cardinal in Germany before the war. The current pope, Benedict XVI, who is German, has accelerated the process of Pius XII’s canonization.

“Over a quarter century ago, the Vatican published eleven volumes of selected archival material from the Holocaust period,” the museum said in a statement. “However, these volumes are not a complete record of the Vatican’s actions during the Holocaust. In recent years, the Museum has enjoyed a cooperative relationship with the Vatican Archives, thanks in particular to the decision of His Holiness Pope John Paul II to open to researchers major archival collections relating to the rise of Nazism in Germany. Copies of many of these records can now be consulted at the Museum and conclusions for the pre-war period are possible. 

“Recognizing the urgency imposed by the advanced age of Holocaust survivors who deserve definitive answers, the Museum encourages the Vatican to follow up this gesture with a decision to make full and complete access to all of its archives from the Holocaust period its highest priority.”

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