Unsealed Vatican Archives To Shed Light On 'Hitler's Pope'

For decades, one of the most enduring dark secrets of the Vatican has been whether they were in cahoots with the Nazis in any shape, form or way. Over the years, there have been allegations that the church knowingly profided Nazi officials with documents that made their post-WWII escape possible, and that the Vatican even profited off the Holocaust thanks to a financial advisor that may have been a Nazi spy. It's riveting (and awful) stuff, and as Harriet Sherwood of the Guardian told us on March 1, 2020, we're finally about to find out how much of it is true. In 2019, Pope Francis announced in that he would open Vatican's archives of the era for a select few scholars in 2020 ... and on Monday, March 2, that interesting day finally took place.   

A key figure in the whole Nazi/Vatican situation is the pope who presided over the Holy See during the WWII era, Pius XII. Pius, who was born Eugenio Pacelli, has drawn plenty of criticism for his routine failure to condemn the Nazi regime and their atrocities in all but the most roundabout of ways, and the fact that he never really explained this decision. This has caused many to think that he was a barely closeted Nazi sympathizer. On the other side are his legacy's defenders, who say that Pius merely chose quiet resistance, and encouraged local churches and monasteries to shelter Jewish refugees, which would switch his suspicious silence from an act of quiet approval to a strategic move to avoid attracting negative attention from Hitler and his cohorts. Regardless of the truth, his silence did his reputation no favors, to the point that a controversial 1999 biography by author John Cromwell straight up called him Hitler's Pope in its very title. 

The truth is in there

On March 2, 2020, the Vatican unsealed its archives of the era, and the first 60 researchers (including influential Jewish scholars) were allowed access. Their research will, hopefully, provide conclusive answers to Pius XII's stance regarding Hitler. Will they uncover rock solid proof that he was indeed a "Hitler's Pope?" Or will the discoveries take the route proposed by Professor Mary Vincent of Sheffield University, who says Pius was merely a "careful, austere and quite unlikable man, trying to steer a path through almost impossible circumstances?" It appears that the Vatican, at least, is confident that history will vindicate Pius. After all, Pope Francis did allow researchers access to the files, and his predecessor, Benedict XVI, even declared that Pius XII "lived a life of 'heroic' Christian virtue." Hopefully, before long we'll all be able to see just what he meant.