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JESUIT-DOCUMENTS (CORRECTED) Apr-24-2009 (600 words) With photo. xxxi
Jesuits say they won't pre-empt Vatican by publishing WWII documents
By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service
ROME (CNS) -- The Society of Jesus said it had not authorized the publication of documents from the private collection of the late U.S. Jesuit Father Robert Graham, an expert on the activities of the Vatican during World War II.
"The documents will be cataloged but not published," said a statement April 24 from the press office of the Jesuit headquarters in Rome.
The Jesuits said, "A possible future publication can only happen after the Holy See opens its archives regarding the pontificate of Pope Pius XII," who has been at the center of debate over whether he and the Catholic Church did enough to save Jews during World War II.
The Jesuit statement, distributed by e-mail and at the Vatican press office, denied a story published April 22 by Catholic News Service, which was summarized the following day in L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper.
The original story "incorrectly reported" that Father Adolfo Nicolas, the Jesuit superior general, had authorized the publication of documents from Father Graham's private collection, the Jesuit statement said.
The CNS story had said Father Nicolas was allowing historians to examine, catalog and digitally record evidence collected by Father Graham, who until his death in 1997 was widely considered the Vatican's leading expert on the role of the wartime pontiff.
The story also reported that Gary Krupp, the Jewish president of the Pave the Way Foundation, said the collection contained photocopies of documents sealed in the Vatican Secret Archives that would not otherwise be made public until 2013 at the earliest.
Krupp told CNS in London April 18 that the Pave the Way Foundation, which is committed to furthering peace by working to remove nontheological obstacles between religions, would work on digitizing the documents with the Jesuits. Krupp told CNS the digitization would begin this summer and was expected to be completed within a month.
Father Graham's collection contains "many of the original documents never before publicized which will now be publicized," Krupp said.
"The significance of it is that it's as though the Vatican archives have opened as of today," he added.
He said that one possible result of the project would be that resistance by some Jews to the possible beatification of Pope Pius would diminish as evidence of his efforts to save lives was made public, though the evidence would not influence the progress of the cause itself.
Pope Benedict has authorized the opening of the Vatican archives up to 1939, but it will take at least four more years before the wartime archives can be cataloged.
Father Graham emerged as one of the most prominent defenders of Pope Pius after 1964, when Pope Paul VI appointed the Jesuit to a commission to rebut allegations made by Rolf Hochhuth, a German, in his 1963 play, "The Deputy." Hochhuth alleged that the wartime pope was a self-interested coward who was silent and inactive during the Holocaust.
Father Graham joined three other Jesuit historians in scouring Vatican archives for evidence to show the truth about the pope's conduct.
The historians published a total of 12 volumes of evidence in the 16 years up to 1981 under the title "Acts and Documents of the Holy See Relating to the Second World War."
Although the volumes "decisively established the falsehood of Hochhuth's specific allegations," according to Irish historian Eamon Duffy, the claims continued to inspire further attacks on the reputation of Pope Pius, a man who had previously been credited by Israeli diplomat Pinchas Lapide with helping to save as many as 850,000 Jewish lives.
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Contributing to this story was Simon Caldwell in London.
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