Scholars Seek More From Vatican WWII Archives

VATICAN, Oct. 26, 00 ( - The members of a joint Catholic- Jewish committee studying the Vatican's World War II archives have issued a preliminary report on their work, and suggested the opening of the archives for that period.

At a press conference in Rome on October 26, the 6-member committee raised 47 specific questions about the contents of the archives, and asked for access to a series of archival documents which have not yet been published. The scholars who make up the committee based their report on a reading of the 11-volume summary of the archives, which had been prepared by a team of Jesuit scholars under the aegis of Pope Paul VI.

The Thursday press conference was chaired by the directors of the joint committee: Eugene Fisher, a staff member of the US bishops' conference specializing in interfaith dialogue; and Seymour Reich, a New York lawyer who is active in international Jewish affairs.

Archbishop Jorge Maria Mejia, the director of the Vatican archives, reports that he has done his best to accommodate the scholars' requests. However, he pointed out that he has a very small staff, and tens of thousands of documents in the Vatican collection. He urged the scholars to narrow down their requests as much as possible, so that he would be able to find the relevant documents more readily.

The archbishop pointed out that there is no special significance to the fact that the Vatican archives for World War II are not yet open to the public. In fact, he observed, the Vatican has not opened any archives more recent than those pertaining to the pontificate of Benedict XV, which ended in 1922.

Subsequent documents have not yet been classified, and that process must be finished before they are opened to the public.

Archbishop Mejia said that his office is now in the process of classifying documents from the reign of Pope Pius XI. That process will probably take about 4 years, he said, and only then would his office begin work on the pontificate of Pius XII. However, he hastened to add that he would do his best to cooperate with special requests from the joint committee.

The Vatican deliberately moves very slowly in the process of classifying and publishing archival material, in order to preserve the confidentiality of the documents.

CWN - Catholic World News
26. oktober 2000

av Webmaster publisert 27.10.2000, sist endret 27.10.2000 - 11:04