JERUSALEM – Pope Francis nixed a plan to open secret Vatican archive files relevant to the Holocaust following pressure from Germany and France, an informed Western diplomat based in Tel Aviv told WND.
Francis was to make the announcement Sunday during his speech at Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, as a sign of reconciliation toward the world Jewish community.
Major Jewish organizations had petitioned Francis to open Holocaust-era Vatican archives.
Efraim Zuroff, chief Nazi hunter of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told Britain’s Guardian last week: “Giving full access to the Vatican archives from the Holocaust would be a very important step in facilitating a truthful evaluation of several subjects, among them what the Vatican knew about the Holocaust and when they received that information.”
The issue of the Vatican and its relationship with Nazi Germany has long been a point of contention in Jewish-Catholic relations.
The topic is particularly timely since Francis will soon decide whether World War II-era pope, Pius XII, should be canonized.
Pius XII played a private role in discreetly aiding Jews and other Nazi victims, but he did not speak out publicly against the German atrocities.
When he came to power, Adolph Hitler signed a compact with the Pius XII in which the Catholic Church agreed to accept the Nazi government in exchange for Hitler pledging not to interfere with Vatican affairs.
Historians say Pius XII knew about the concentration camps and mass murders at the beginning of the Holocaust in part from reports from priests present in Germany and all occupied countries.