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Cardinal Kasper promises to open wartime archives soon

The Vatican intends to open its World War II-era archives to Jewish historians as soon as it is technically possible, Cardinal Walter Kasper has announced.

Cardinal Kasper, president of the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with Judaism, published a statement last Friday in which he confirms the Holy See's intention to open its archives and to continue dialogue with the Jewish community.

His statement followed a decision by a panel of Jewish and Catholic historians who halted their research into Pope Pius XII's actions during World War II and especially the Holocaust.

The commission made its decision in July, stating that the Vatican did not allow access to archives of interest.

The commission was created in 1999, at the initiative of Cardinal Edward I. Cassidy, Cardinal Kasper's predecessor, and the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations. It was entrusted with the study of the Vatican documents.

Cardinal Kasper clarified in his statement that the Vatican never mentioned the possibility of opening all the archives relating to this historical period, because they are yet to be classified. The archives comprise more than three million pages.

According to his statement, the real problem of the commission's work was the difficulty in agreeing on the final report, given the "impossibility of overcoming the different interpretations given by the group to the tasks and purpose."