Holy See Documents From World War II Go Online

Researchers Welcome Availability of Pius XII Information

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 25, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican announced today that official documents spanning more than 40 years are now available online.

The entire collection of the of the Actae Sanctae Sedis (A.S.S.) and of the Acta Apostolicae Sedis (A.A.S.) -- i.e., the official Acts of the Holy See from 1865 to 2007 -- are now available in pdf format. 

Also available is a multi-volume collection of acts from World War II, (Actes et documents du Saint-Siège relatifs à la Seconde Guerre Mondiale), published by order of Paul VI starting in 1965, and edited by a specialized group of four Jesuit historians.

The project of putting the information online was supported by the New York-based Pave the Way Foundation.

A statement from Pave the Way noted the collection -- with its more than 9,000 pages -- describes the contents of 5,125 documents that are still not catalogued in the Vatican Secret Archives, and consequently, still not open to the public. These documents have been at the heart of controversy as researchers seek to settle debate over the role Pope Pius XII played in saving Jews from the Holocaust.

Gary Krupp, president of the Pave the Way Foundation, said the research project is "extremely important."

"To date, most of the research done in this area has been selective in nature. By opening these documents up for worldwide study, we hope to bring the truth of this controversial period to light," he said.

The foundation enlisted Israeli photographer Ardon Bar-Hama, whose work includes the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Codex Vaticanus, in order to deliver the highest quality fully searchable digital images of the documents.

Elliot Hershberg, chairman of the Pave the Way board, observed, "We felt that it was necessary to open these records, which are certainly not a substitute for the full opening of the war year archives. However, together with Pope Benedict XVI’s ordering of the opening of the Secret Archives up to 1939, we now have a clearer historical picture of the secret actions of Pope Pius XII and his attitude towards the Jewish people, his hatred of Hitler, and his secret work to defeat the Nazi regime.”

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On the Net:

Documents: www.vatican.va/archive/atti-ufficiali-santa-sede/index_en.htm