Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York and Co-Chair of the USCCB’s dialogue with the National Council of Synagogues, on March 12, 2019, praised Pope Francis’ recent announcement regarding the opening of the Vatican Archives from the wartime pontificate of Pope Pius XII.
“I am grateful to His Holiness for taking this welcome step and allowing scholars to examine the records of Pope Pius XII’s pontificate during the Second World War,” commented Cardinal Dolan. “Along with our Jewish partners and colleagues, I have previously called for access to these files. Today, we look forward to the 2020 opening of the Archives.”
In a March 4 audience with Vatican officials, Pope Francis announced his intention to permit access to the Secret Archives of Pius XII’s pontificate. The Pope set the date of March 2, 2020, for the official opening.
Pius XII’s papacy began in 1939, just months before the outbreak of the Second World War. Scholars, particularly those interested in Catholic-Jewish relations, have been anxious to examine Vatican files, especially those related to the war years and the fate of the Jewish community in Rome.
As a U.S. leader in Catholic-Jewish relations, Cardinal Dolan has actively called for the release of these documents since becoming Archbishop of New York in 2009. “Whatever is needed to complete this project, even in phases rather than only as a whole, I suggest must be explored,” His Eminence said in a speech at Jewish Theological Seminary in 2011.
“I echo Pope Francis’ sentiment that sincere historical research will present an opportunity to grow in public understanding,” reflected Cardinal Dolan. “I pray it will bring about a new era in which Catholic and Jewish scholars, who have deepened their trust and friendship, can continue working together to examine this important new material.”
Rabbi David Straus, Senior Rabbi of Main Line Reform Temple in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, and co-chair of the National Council of Synagogues dialogue with the USCCB, echoed the Cardinal’s sentiments, saying, “We look forward to this new moment of openness, which will only build upon our previous work together, and, we pray, continue to strengthen our relationships, friendships, understandings of each other in our important work together. Our shared commitment to making the facts known can only serve to demonstrate the mutuality of respect and concern that is reflected in Pope Francis’s decision.”