Speaking at a ceremony marking 50 years since Pius' death, Bertone castigated those who say Pius did nothing to save Jews. He said historians who espouse such views "are infuriating and historically inaccurate." He called the allegations against Pius a "defaming legend."Earlier this decade the Vatican and Jewish organizations set up a joint commission of historians to clarify the issue, but shortly thereafter the Jewish historians on the panel, who included world-class scholars, all resigned when the Vatican refused them free access to the documentation. Given that historians, unlike journalists or bloggers, try to base their contentions on documents and not merely hearsay, this was a bit of a problem.
As the news item thoughtlessly parrots:
It is believed the process of cataloging and releasing the Vatican's documents from the World War II era will take another six or seven years.Who exactly is doing the "believing"? We're not told.
I'm reminded of an instance in December 1998, methinks, when the US State Department convened a gigantic conference of folks from dozens of countries who all came to Foggy Bottom to talk about "Holocaust Era Assets", which were all the rage in those days. There were many of hundreds of us there, in a mostly cynical attempt to demonstrate, I don't know, that everybody was great or something. Though we weren't more cynical than politicians diplomats and power brokers generally are, so perhaps there wasn't anything particular about this convention.
Anyway, one of the panels I participated in was made up of archivists, and we were talking about ensuring that all archives be open to research and so on. If memory serves, I was sitting right next to the Monsignore from the Vatican's archives. Given that by 1998 his archive was one of the very last ones anywhere in the relevant parts of the world that were still closed, you don't have to envy him, and indeed he read out a statement that was unusually cynical even by the standards of the general context. At the end of the discussion I remember that I said to him that in democracies, opening archives is a hallmark of the freedom of investigation, and that as a general rule one shouldn't fear the truth that careful investigation of archives will bring forth.
He look straight at me and said "The Vatican is not a Democracy, Dr. Lozowick". End of that discussion.