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Vatican set to publish documents from World War II archives

The Vatican is preparing to publish a two-volume book and eight DVDs that document the Holy See's quiet efforts to help prisoners of war during World War II.

The material from the Vatican Secret Archives, including information on some 3 million people, illustrates the "gigantic" project undertaken by the Vatican to help the prisoners and relatives seeking news about their fate.

The publications also testify to the "abundant charity and social work, inspired by the principles of universality and impartiality, which was carried out under the pontificate of Pope Pius XII," the Vatican said.

The material is expected to go on sale at the end of this month, and will be available to the general public as well as historians.

Pope John Paul II decided in 2002 to release some wartime material from the Vatican archives ahead of the normal publication schedule, following requests by Jewish groups and historians. Vatican archives of an entire pontificate are normally opened at the same time; in 2005 the entire material from the papacy of Pope Pius XI (1922-39) will be made available.

The early publication of the World War II information shows Pope John Paul's desire to "render a service to historical truth without clamor, fear or delay," the Vatican said.

Vatican set to publish documents from World War II archives (Catholic News Service 8/6/04)

Vatican Secret Archives
Libreria Editrice Vaticana

10 Jun 2004