"Knocking on the Vatican’s Gates. Refugees, the Holy See, and the Spectre of Communism, 1945-1958” (Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2023-2026)
This project is the first to explore the crucial – but hitherto neglected – role of the Vatican Relief Commission (the Pontificia Commissione di Assistenza, PCA) in assisting and resettling European refugees after World War II and in the early Cold War. It takes advantage of an unprecedented opportunity: the opening of the part of the Vatican Apostolic Archive (or VAA, named the Vatican Secret Archive until 2019) pertaining to the pontificate of Pius XII (1939-1958) in March 2020. To meet its central aim - providing a new understanding of Western humanitarianism in the postwar period - this project interrogates the documents held in VAA to integrate the missing puzzle piece of papal aid into the picture of the international refugee assistance. It demonstrates the importance of the Vatican’s faith-based humanitarianism and its use of refugees from Eastern Europe as a playing card in building an anti-communist defensive.