Vatican promises to open wartime archives

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London, May 26 (ANI): The Vatican has promised that its archives for the entire period of the Second World War, when the Church was accused of failing to do enough to help Jews, will be opened for scholarly research soon.

"We have nothing to hide. We do not need to fear the truth," Cardinal Walter Kasper the head of the Vatican's Council for Christian Unity, as saying while addressing one of the most sensitive and difficult aspects of Jewish-Christian relations, the papacy of Pius XII, described as "Hitler's Pope".

The Times quoted Cardinal Kasper, as saying that it was being increasingly felt in the higher echelons of the church that cutting itself off from its Jewish roots for centuries had weakened it so badly that it was not in a position to offer resistance against persecution of the Jews.

He said that Israel without the Church was in danger of becoming "too particularistic and reclusive", but that the Church without Israel was "in danger of losing its historical grounding and becoming ahistorical and Gnostic".

He added: "Judaism and Christianity need each other and therefore are dependent on each other."

The Cardinal was speaking at Liverpool Hope University in an address described by the Archbishop of Liverpool, the Most Rev Patrick Kelly, as one that had prompted in him "a change in heart and mind".

Describing the state-sponsored organised murder of six million European Jews as "the absolute low point" in the history of anti-Semitism, Cardinal Kasper nevertheless said that the Holocaust could not be attributed to Christianity as such, since it also had clear anti-Christian features.

Defending the record of Pius XII, a candidate for canonisation who was Pope from 1938 to 1958, while Rome was under the heel of Mussolini and later occupied by Germany, he said that the contemporary assessment of his Pontificate was rather positive.

He promised that the archives for Pius XII's papacy would be online within six years.

Since 2003 access has been available up until the end of the Pontificate of Pius XI in 1939, a period in which the future Pius XII was Secretary of State.

"The Archives are now working under intense pressure on the project to prepare access to the Pontificate of Pius XII, but the registration and preparation of millions of documents in a due professional way needs time and will be completed in about five or six years, after which general access for scholars will be granted," he said.

Eleven volumes with documents of the Holy See have already been made public and recently many other sources have become available. (ANI)

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