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Vatican sees intense interest in opening of Pius XII archive

FILE - In this file photo dated Sept. 1945, Pope Pius XII, wearing the ring of St. Peter, raises his right hand in a papal blessing at the Vatican. The Vatican’s chief librarian and archivists said Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020 that all researchers _ regardless of nationality, faith and ideology _ were welcome to request access to the soon-to-open Vatican’s apostolic library on Pope Pius XII starting March 2. (AP Photo, File)
Pius VII was pope during World War II.

VATICAN CITY — More than 150 historians and researchers have signed up to access the soon-to-open Vatican archives of Pope Pius XII, evidence of the intense scholarly interest into the World War II-era pope and his record during the Holocaust, officials said Thursday.

Cardinal José Tolentino Calaça de Mendonça, the Vatican’s chief librarian, told reporters that all researchers were welcome to request permission to use the Vatican’s Apostolic Library.

“The church has no reason to fear history,” he said.

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Some Jewish groups and historians have said Pius, who was pope from 1939 to 1958, stayed silent during the Holocaust and didn’t do enough to save lives. His defenders at the Vatican and beyond say he used quiet diplomacy and encouraged convents and other religious institutes to hide Jews.

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Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, a great defender of Pius, accelerated the process to open the archives ahead of schedule so that researchers could have their say. Pope Francis announced the archive would be ready March 2.

One of the historians who plans to be here for opening day is David Kertzer of Brown University.

ASSOCIATED PRESS