SignaturesJosé Carlos Martín de la Hoz

The archives of Pius XII

As the years go by and public and private funds are dedicated to providing resources and people, private and institutional archives are opened and classified. In this way, the documents necessary to write the true history, the one that is made with sources, increase.

April 2, 2019-Reading time: 2 minutes

Logically, researchers dedicated to contemporary history publish articles and books and give lectures, and in this way, little by little, a more complete analysis of the historical reality, although always provisional, reaches the non-specialized public. In any case, contemporary history requires, in addition to the publication of sources, which we have mentioned, the necessary time to be able to acquire the necessary perspective, the sharpness of dwelling and the deep knowledge of the facts and their possible repercussions.

Thus, in a few years, with what is being published, the provisional historiography is turning around and the facts of the recent history of Europe and of the Church in Europe are becoming better known in a more documented way and, therefore, the clichés, commonplaces and black legends that have so much influence on the confidence in the Church and in families, to which people and institutions have a particular right, are being dispelled.

An example of what we have just explained has taken place with the recent opening of the extensive documentation in the Vatican archives on the pontificate of Pope Pius XI, which has provided contemporary historiography with very important documentation. 

Along these lines, Professor Vicente Cárcel Ortí, a great connoisseur of these archives, has been publishing from this documentary collection some works related, for example, to the position of the Holy See with respect to the government of the Second Republic in Spain, and to the relations with the government during the Civil War and, finally, about the long process and the Roman doubts regarding the acceptance of the relations of the Church with the Franco regime. It is interesting, therefore, to reread Vicente Cárcel's introduction to his volume to understand the meaning of the opening of these archives, the work required and also the measures taken by the Vatican Archives for the use of these funds (cfr. Vicente Cárcel Ortí, Pius XI. Between the Republic and FrancoMadrid 2008).

The Holy See's decision to open part of the archives of the pontificate of Pope Pius XII falls along these lines. As is well known, the Church had recently opened the Vatican archives up to Pius XI, i.e. up to 1939, so opening up to 1945, for example, would make it clear forever how both Pius XII and his collaborators contributed to peace in the world, to the defense of the Jewish people and how they confronted the totalitarian ideologies that ravaged Europe, both Nazism and Communism.

The authorJosé Carlos Martín de la Hoz

Member of the Academy of Ecclesiastical History of Madrid.

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