"...til the end of time". GS
ZENIT, The world seen from Rome
Cardinal: Vatican Has Nothing to Hide in Archives
Says Pius XII Documents Will Be Ready in 5 Years
LIVERPOOL, England, JUNE 2, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican is working
diligently to prepare the archives from the World War II years for
public access, and it has nothing to hide, says the president of the
Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews.
Cardinal Walter Kasper affirmed this in a May 24 address at Liverpool
Hope University, in which he reported on recent developments in
Jewish-Christian relations, reported The Times newspaper.
The day before, the cardinal, also president of the Pontifical Council
for Promoting Christian Unity, spoke at the "Two Cathedrals Service" in
Liverpool on the Feast of Pentecost. In that city, the Anglican and
Roman Catholic cathedrals are separated by just a half mile along a
road called Hope Street. Pope John Paul II processed up that street in
1982, and since that time the Pentecost service has become a tradition.
Speaking at the university, the only ecumenical university in Europe,
which at its founding was acknowledged as a "sign of hope" by both
Catholic and Anglican leaders, Cardinal Kasper noted the "complex and
difficult" history of Jewish-Christian relations.
He spoke about the work being done to clear up the role of the Catholic
Church, and Pope Pius XII in particular, in the "brutal -- historically
without comparison -- crimes of the Shoah, the state-sponsored
organized murder of approximately six million European Jews, which is
the absolute low point in this history."
The prelate continued: "The Holocaust cannot be attributed to
Christianity as such, since it also had clear anti-Christian features.
"However, centuries-old Christian theological anti-Judaism contributed
as well, encouraging a widespread antipathy for Jews, so that
ideologically and racially motivated anti-Semitism could prevail in
this terrible way, and the resistance against the outrageous inhuman
brutality did not achieve the breadth and clarity that one should have
The cardinal noted that "Pius XII was Pope (193858) during one of the
most difficult times of the papacy during the Second World War while
Rome was under the heel of Mussolini and later occupied by Germany."
He observed that although Pius XII did many things to help the Jews
during those years, in more recent times there has been widespread
disagreement about whether this was enough, and whether the Pontiff was
too silent about the crimes.
The prelate explained: "The serious recent historical research is
"There are still today Jews who defend Pius XII, and on the other side
there are Catholic authors who are critical about his attitude. So
there is no clear frontline between Jews and Catholics, though the
majority of Jews, especially in Israel, are still critical."
"The main problem is access to the sources," he acknowledged. "The
request for the opening of the Vatican Archives is a legitimate
"The material which is already accessible now proves that Pius XII was
at no time 'Hitler's Pope,'" Cardinal Kasper asserted. "On the
contrary, he was the closest cooperator of Pope Pius XI in the
publication of the encyclical 'Mit Brennender Sorge' ('It Is With Deep
Anxiety,' 1937), which was a fervent condemnation of Nazi race
He noted that "11 volumes with documents of the Holy See have already
been made public and recently many other sources have become available."
However, the prelate affirmed, "knowing the facts is one aspect, for
history is not only a question of facts, but also of the historical
interpretation of facts, in this case facts which happened more than
half a century ago in a context which is not only politically but also
mentally radically different from ours, and only difficult to
understand for a generation which can call itself fortunate not to have
undergone a similar experience."
He added that the Vatican Archives "are now working under intense
pressure on the project to prepare access to the Pontificate of Pius
"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," the
He added, "It is our belief that we have nothing to hide and that we do
not need to fear the truth."
Cardinal Kasper acknowledged that "even after the opening of the
archives," perhaps "the discussion will be open till the end of times,"
for "who can dare to say the last word about such an outrageous event
as the Holocaust?"
"The only adequate answer can be shame and repentance, that Catholics
did not react more forcefully," he affirmed, "and then metanoia," in
other words, "a new thinking and a new behavior today in order to build
up new relations with the Jewish people."