By Luke Coppen THE VATICAN has defended its decision not to open its secret archives to scholars invesligating Pope Pius Xll's wartime activities.
Pope Pius's postulator, Fr Peter Gumpel SJ, said that the Vatican had not yet catalogued all of the three million papers relating to the war and therefore could not open them to scholars. Calls for the Vatican to open the files on the Holocaust reached a crescendo last month, when the Jewish members of a panel set up to assess Pope Pius's wartime record resigned. accusing the Church of hiding information damaging to the Pope.
Fr Peter Gumpel, responded angrily to the suggestions, denouncing them as a -violent attack" on the Catholic Church.
He said: "In this recent attack on the Holy See, it is said that the Vatican does not intend to open its archives. These reports are sensationally false because ... they will be opened, not only to them, but to all scholars who wish to examine the entire material relating to the pontificate of Pius XII."
The accusations levelled at the Vatican, Fr Gumpel said, had caused serious harm to Catholic-Jewish relations.
"At this point it is clear that the tendentious reports which have appeared in certain journals are without foundation and have the transparent propagandistic aim of damaging the Holy See," he said.
"Dear brothers and sisters, Psalm 33 is a joyful hymn of praise to God, the creator of the universe and the Lord of history. It speaks of God's presence in creation and in human events, and it encourages us to look forward to the day when his kingdom will be fully established.
"By his word God created the world, and he holds it in existence. He guides the destiny of all peoples according to his wise plan.
"The psalmist warns that it is vain to rely on human power alone, and he invites the faithful to put their trust in God, who is close to those who call upon his name.
"In his loving mercy, God protects his people and provides a sure foundation for our faith and hope. With this assurance we can join the psalmist in singing to God 'a song that is new'.
"1 warmly welcome the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, especially those from Sweden, Malta, Japan and the United States of America. Upon you and your families 1 invoke the joy and peace of Jesus Christ our saviour."