Vatican to release Pius XI's secret archives

All documentary records relating to the pontificate of Pope Pius XI, whose pontificate began in the aftermath of World War I and lasted until the eve of World War II in 1939, will be released in September, according to a Holy See announcement.

According to Catholic News Service, the documents of the 1922-1939 pontificate - documents held in a variety of Vatican archives, including those of the Secretariat of State and the Vatican Secret Archives - will be available to scholars in September.

The release will offer new insight into what the Church knew and did as Europe saw the rise of Nazism in Germany and the Spanish Civil War.

According to Reuters the Vatican in 2003 began making available to scholars millions of documents from the years leading up to World War II, releasing them ahead of schedule at the request of John Paul II.

For years, the Vatican has struggled to defend Pope Pius' successor, the wartime Pope Pius XII, against claims he did not do enough to save Jews from the Holocaust. During Pius XI's papacy, Eugenio Pacelli - the future Pius XII - was the Vatican nuncio in Germany and later its secretary of state. He became Pope in 1939 and served until his death in 1958.

The material to be released may include an encyclical that Pius XI commissioned to denounce racism and the violent nationalism of Germany.

Pius died before he could release the encyclical, titled Humani Generis Unitatas ("The Unity of the Human Race"). It was never made public.

A Vatican official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the newly accessible files would include documents about the Nazis but that most information on the Vatican's relations with Germany had already been published.

Vatican will release files on Pius XI (International Herald Tribune, 30/6/06)
Vatican says documents from Pius XI's papacy to be available Sept 18 (Catholic News Service 30/6/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Pope Pius XI (Wikipedia)

Vatican set to publish documents from World War II archives (CathNews, 10/6/04)
Letter reveals Edith Stein asked Pope Pius XI to condemn Nazism (CathNews, 21/2/03)
Vatican prepares release of confidential pre-World War II documents (CathNews, 11/2/03)

3 Jul 2006