Pope Francis

Pope Francis

Pope Francis will be urged to open the Vatican Archives on Pope Pius XII next week, in a meeting with scholars and an interfaith delegation, writes Stephen Oryszczuk

The meeting comes on the 77th anniversary of Pius’s election to the papacy, and as controversy continues over the extent to which the man nicknamed ‘Hitler’s Pope’ knew about the extermination of Jews and what he did about it.

Author Mark Riebling, one of the 2 March delegation which will visit the Vatican crypt and the tomb of Pius XII, recently published a book indicating that Pius was part of a secret plot to bring down Hitler.

Before Francis was made pontiff, he indicated in a book co-written with an Argentinian rabbi that he would be happy to open the Vatican Archive to researchers to determine the culpability of the Church during the Shoah. 

Pius, whose repeated failure to denounce Hitler prompted accusations of complicity in genocide, was believed to be a political choice, with Reibling saying: “The cardinals elected the candidate most skilled in statecraft.”