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Delay in release of Vatican war documents

The Vatican will be unable to meet its promised New Year's Day target for the release of documents on the Holy See's relations with Germany in the years leading up to Second World War, saying it is overwhelmed by the huge mass of material.

It now plans to make the material available in mid-February as part of Pope John Paul's wishes to show the Vatican "has nothing to fear," said the Fr Sergio Pagano, head of the Vatican archives.

"The date was too soon. We are not ready with the numbering , the seals and the binding of the thousands of documents involved," Pagano said this week.

The release is the Vatican's response to demands by Jewish groups for access to the archives dealing with Pius XII, the Second World War pope. Critics of the pope charge that he failed to raise his voice and use his position to head off the extermination of European Jews by the Nazis.

Supporters of the pope insist he made every effort possible to help Jews and other victims, using quiet diplomacy.

The documents scheduled for release will not involve the papacy of Pius XII, but cover the years 1922-1939 when he was a Vatican diplomat in Germany and later secretary of state. Specifically, they cover the Vatican diplomatic missions in Berlin and Munich.


Pius the hero (The Spectator 20/7/02)

19 Dec 2002