Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wartime Vatican archives to go online

The Vatican will soon make some of its World War II archives available for free on the Internet, the Holy See's daily l'Osservatore Romano said on Monday.

The 8,000 pages of documents to be put online will however not include material directly relating to Pius XII, the wartime pope whose attitude towards the Holocaust has been the subject of controversy.

"We noted that the papacy of Pius XII during World War II has become a major cause of friction ... ," Gary Krupp, the head of the Pave the Way Foundation which led the move to digitalize the archives, was quoted saying.

The Vatican Library has already published the documents that will appear online, following an order from Pope Paul VI in 1964.

Material relating to Pius will not be published for another five or six years, the head of the Vatican secret archives Monsignor Sergio Pagano said last July.

The current pope Benedict XVI's decree in December giving his wartime predecessor the title "venerable" – a step towards sainthood – prompted anger among Jewish communities.

Jewish groups have long criticized Pius' silence as Germany's Nazi regime killed millions of Jews during the Holocaust.

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