One of the largest U.S.-based Jewish advocacy groups on Monday praised the Vatican's "enormously important" decision to open the archives of Pius XII, who was pope during the World War II period.
For more than 30 years the American Jewish Committee "has called for the full opening" of the archives "to shed light on his activities as pontiff during World War II," the New York-based group said in a statement.
Francis announced Monday that the Vatican will open the secret archives in March 2020.
The announcement comes just ahead of an AJC delegation visit to the Vatican and audience with the Pope this week.
Francis's decision to open the archives "is enormously important to Catholic-Jewish relations," said AJC International Director of Interreligious Affairs David Rosen.
It is important for experts to "objectively evaluate as best as possible the historical record of that most terrible of times — to acknowledge both the failures as well as the valiant efforts made during the period of the systematic murder of six million Jews," Rosen said.
Researchers have long sought to examine the archives to understand why Pius XII (1939-1958) did not intervene more against the Holocaust perpetrated by the German Nazis, an attitude denounced by critics including Jewish groups as a form of passive complicity.
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