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Pius’s public reticence over condemning the Holocaust was despite efforts by many in the church, as well as diplomats from allied countries, to persuade him to speak out.
What makes this event so significant is that it constitutes the starting point for bitter accusations regarding the Catholic Church’s alleged failure to condemn the tyrannical, totalitarian Third Reich and the Holocaust that flowed from it.
Ever since the appearance of Rolf Hochhuth’s play, “The Deputy,” in 1963, the Catholic Church and Pope Pius XII have been excoriated for their silence before the horrors of the Holocaust.
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This year marks the 80th anniversary of one of the landmark moments in the recent history of the Catholic Church—the signing on July 20, 1933, of a concordat between the Vatican and Hitler’s Nazi regime.
Vatican archives on Pope Pius XII, the controversial wartime pontiff accused of failing to condemn the Holocaust, are to be opened next year after pressure from campaigners and historians.
Pope Francis announced the archives would be unsealed in March 2020, eight years ahead of schedule, saying the Roman Catholic church was “not afraid of history”.
But they could be seen as attempts “to keep lit, in the darkest and cruellest periods, the flame of humanitarian initiatives, of hidden but active diplomacy”, said Francis.
In 2009, Francis’s predecessor, Pope Benedict, angered many Jews when he approved a decree recognising Pius’s “heroic virtues”, a first step toward sainthood.
Photograph: Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone/Getty The Vatican has defended the wartime pope, who died in 1958, saying he used back-channels and quiet diplomacy to try to save lives.
Francis told staff at the Vatican archive on Monday: “The church isn’t afraid of history - on the contrary, it loves it, and would like to love it even more, like it loves God.” Pius led the church during one of the “saddest and darkest periods of the 20th century”, the pope said.