From remarks by Pope Francis this morning to “superiors, collaborators, and employees” of the Vatican Secret Archive, commemorating the 80th anniversary of the election of Pius XII:
By wish of Pope Benedict XVI, you Superiors and Officials of the Vatican Secret Archive, as well as of the Historical Archives of the Holy See and of the Vatican City State, since 2006 you have been working on a common project of inventorying and preparation of substantial documentation produced during the pontificate of Pius XII, part of which was already made consultable by my venerable Predecessors San Paolo VI and San Giovanni Paolo II.
I therefore thank you, and through you also the other Vatican archivists, for the patient and scrupulous work you have done over the past twelve years, and which you are still partly carrying out, to complete the aforementioned preparation.
Yours is a work that takes place in silence and away from the clamor, cultivates the memory, and in a sense it seems to me that it can be compared to the cultivation of a majestic tree, whose branches are stretched towards the sky, but whose roots are solidly anchored in the earth. If we compare this tree to the Church, we see that it is reaching out towards Heaven, where is our homeland and our last horizon; but the roots sink into the soil of the same Incarnation of the Word, in history, over time. You, archivists, with your patient toil work on these roots and help to keep them alive, so that even the greenest and youngest branches of the tree can get good sap for their growth in the future.
This constant and not a little effort, yours and your colleagues, allows me today, in memory of that significant anniversary, to announce my decision to open to the researchers the archival documentation related to the pontificate of Pius XII , until his death, occurred at Castel Gandolfo on October 9, 1958.
I have decided that the opening of the Vatican Archives for the pontificate of Pius XII will take place on March 2, 2020, exactly one year after the eightieth anniversary of the election to the Throne of Peter by Eugenio Pacelli.
I assume this decision after hearing the opinion of my closest collaborators, with a serene and confident mind, sure that serious and objective historical research will be able to evaluate, in its proper light, with appropriate criticism, moments of exaltation of that Pontiff and, without any doubt, also moments of serious difficulties, of tormented decisions, of human and Christian prudence, which some might have seemed reticent, and which instead were attempts, humanly also very hard-fought, to keep the flame of humanitarian initiatives lit during the periods of more intense darkness and cruelty , of hidden but active diplomacy, of hope in possible good openings of hearts.The Church is not afraid of history, rather, loves it, and would like to love it more and better, as God loves it! So, with the same trust of my predecessors, I open and entrust to researchers this documentary heritage.
Vatican News adds this:
Bishop Sergio Pagano, Prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives, provides details of the initiative in an article, published in the Monday edition of the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, and anticipated by the Press Office of the Holy See. In the article, Bishop Pagano describes the long period of preparation that led to this moment: “Archivists of the Vatican Secret Archives and their colleagues from other Vatican archives carried out patient work of sorting, annotating and inventorying the many fonds and documents,” he writes.
…The figure of Pope Pius XII has often been “too superficially judged and criticized for some aspects of his pontificate”, concludes Bishop Pagan. Now, thanks to the openness asked for by Pope Francis, historians will be able to research the pontificate of Pope Pius XII “without prejudice, but with the help of new documents, in all the realistic scope and richness” of that pontificate.