VATICAN CITY — The Vatican, trying to counter charges that the papacy was silent in the face of the Holocaust, confirmed Tuesday that it will open up secret archives from the years leading up to World War II.
The archives include documents from 1922 to 1939. Eugenio Pacelli was Vatican ambassador in Berlin during part of this period before becoming Pope Pius XII. Also to be made available are letters to the Vatican from people looking for prisoners of war and others who disappeared between 1940 and '46.
Cardinal Jorge Maria Mejia, the Vatican's librarian, said the archival material will be available through the Holy See's Web site in January.
"Of course, the archives are of great interest to the media," Mejia said at a news conference.
Critics of Pius XII argue that he failed to raise his voice and use his position to head off the extermination of European Jews by the Nazis. Defenders insist that he made every effort possible to help Jews and others.