Pope Francis has ordered to change the name of the Vatican Secret Archive. The collection of the historical documents isn’t so secret after all, Hindustan Times reported on Tuesday.
Pope Francis on Monday officially changed the name of the Holy See archive, making the archive not so secret. In fact, the pontiff confessed that removing the “negative” connotations of the word “secret” in its name sound much better and modern.
From Tuesday, the vast collection of Vatican documents, manuscripts and papyrus of popes past will be officially known as the “Vatican Apostolic Archive.”
In a new order, the pontiff noted that the archive has long been open to scholars and that he himself has decreed that the archives of World War II-era Pope Pius XII, accused by some of not speaking out enough about the Holocaust, would open to researchers ahead of schedule on March 2, 2020.
According to the head of the Roman Catholic Church, the name change better reflects the archive’s reality and “its service to the church and the world of culture.”
Holy See archive contains many controversial historic documents
Located inside the Apostolic Palace, the Vatican archive contains a series of reading rooms and a two-story “bunker” of reinforced cement. The archive contains the documentation on the life of the universal Catholic Church dating from the eighth century to the present. It contains 600 different collections that are organized across 85 kilometres of shelving.
The most precious documents, including ancient gold-plated manuscripts and the acts of the Inquisition trial against Galileo Galilei — are held in secure, climatized rooms where humidity is controlled. It was Pope Leo XIII who in 1881 opened the archive’s doors to researchers, and currently an estimated 1,500 a year are allowed inside.
The most recent papacy available to scholars is that of Pope Pius XI, whose pontificate anded in 1958. Seventy years after, the pontificate’s archives could be open up. However, the Holy See has been under pressure to organize and catalogue the Pius XII collection faster to make it available to researchers while Holocaust survivors are still alive.
Being renamed the Vatican archive, the pontiff has cited the Pius XIII opening in explaining his rationale for the name change. In fact, the original Latin name Archivium Secretum meant solely to mean that the archive was private and separate. Under modern age, such old-fashioned name had taken on almost sinister implications that the Vatican had secrets to hide.
“Thanks to a certain cultural emphases in some places, the word ‘secretum’ having lost its true meaning and instinctively being associated with the modern concept of the word ‘secret,’ assumed the prejudicial acceptance of being hidden, not revealed and reserved for a few,” Pope Francis explained.
The pontiff also added that is completely contrary to what the Vatican Secret Archive always was and intended to be.