Volume 93, Issue 49

Thursday, November 25, 1999


Mercer talks to council

Student definition changed by USC

Recommendations for BOG revealed tonight

Western helping to make sure the kids are all right

Archives may settle controversy


Bass Ackwards

Archives may settle controversy

By Stephanie Cesca
Gazette Staff

A University of Toronto professor is among five other historians throughout the world who have been chosen by the Vatican to study the controversial role it played during the Holocaust.

Michael Marrus, dean of graduate studies, historian of the Holocaust and a published author on the subject, said the panel will review already-published Roman Catholic Church archive documents, to review what kind of action the church took throughout the Holocaust during the Second World War.

"We're going to be posing questions, hopefully to the opening of the archives," he said, explaining much of the archive material has never been revealed and could potentially resolve several unanswered questions.

The resolution of this issue is long overdue, Marrus said. "These matters are best resolved, not by ignoring then, not by suppressing them, but by understanding them."

Although the topic is a controversial one, Marrus said the panel will hopefully bridge the two religions. "I think that there has been extreme progress in Catholic-Jewish relations in the past few years," he said.

Father Thomas Rosica, executive director of the Newman Centre in Toronto and appointed representative of the Canadian Bishop's National Jewish-Christian Dialogue, said he applauded this move.

"I'm very happy the Vatican has decided in this way. They're going to raise some relevant issues that people feel have not been satisfied or resolved by the documents already available."

The panel is intended to pursue truth and make some sort of reconciliation, especially at the time of the millennium, Rosica said. He also applauded Marrus as a panelist. "He's an excellent person – very qualified."

Jonathan Vance, a history professor at Western, said the content of the church's archives has been a long contemplated issue.

"There's the big question – what's in there? A lot of historians assume [the archives] haven't been opened because they have some nasty secrets about what was going on," he said. "But people, I think, have tended to assume the worst about the archives in the Second World War."

Although this study should have occurred 20 years ago, the Catholic denomination appears to be as keen as ever to co-operate, Vance said.

All historians, he added, will be happy to see the questions addressed. "I think the profession is generally pleased this is going on."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999