A 2001 cable discusses the potential release of archive material on a highly sensitive topic, the dealings of Eugenio Pacelli, later pope Pius XII, during Second World War. This cable (01VATICAN4258) was first published in a redacted form by the Guardian. Its full text was later on released by Wikileaks. Both versions can be accessed here.
The cable describes a meeting between embassy staff and Peter Gumpel, SJ the keeper of the archive, to discuss a way forward, so that the existing material could be released without delay, while maintaining a "positive, productive dialogue".
According to the cable, Gumpel responded:
"GUMPEL IMMEDIATELY ADVISED THAT THE ISSUE OF ACCESS TO THE VATICAN ARCHIVES RELATED TO THE WORLD WAR II ERA WAS SIMPLY AN INTERNAL MATTER OF PROCEDURE AND NOT A POLITICAL ONE."
The following passage was redacted by the Guardian. According to the full Cablegate archive, it went on to say:
"ALTHOUGH LATER HE ADMITTED THAT IT HAD BEEN TURNED INTO A POLITICAL ISSUE THROUGH A DISTORTION OF FACTS RELATED TO THE WORKINGS OF A JEWISH-VATICAN COMMISSION STUDYING PIUS XII'S ROLE DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR. GUMPEL PROFFERED COPIES OF HIS STATEMENT, WRITTEN WITH AUTHORIZATION FROM THE HIGHEST LEVELS WITHIN THE VATICAN HIERARCHY, COUNTERING "FALSE" ASSERTIONS BY UNNAMED MEMBERS OF THE COMMISSION, AS WELL AS A STATEMENT PREPARED BY CARDINAL WILLIAM KEELER OF BALTIMORE, THE U.S. BISHOPS DELEGATE FOR CATHOLIC-JEWISH AFFAIRS, WHO DID NAME NAMES."
In the following, a passage describing this "political issue" has also been removed:
"GUMPEL WAS PERSONALLY PAINED BY SOME OF THE AD HOMINUM COMMENTARY DIRECTED AT HIM BY JEWISH MEMBERS OF THE COMMISSION AND OTHER JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS. HE STRESSED TO A/DCM THAT HE HAS REFRAINED FROM CHARACTERIZING THE WORK OF CERTAIN COMMISSION MEMBERS "UNTIL NOW" AS A PROFESSIONAL COURTESY AND OUT OF RESPECT. HOWEVER, HE WARNED THAT IF ATTACKS AND FALSEHOODS CONTINUED, HE WOULD RELEASE THE TAPES OF THE MEETINGS. (NOTE: GUMPEL INSINUATED THAT THE RELEASE TO THE TAPES WOULD PROVE TO BE EMBARRASSING FOR SOME OF THE COMMISSION MEMBERS, DEMONSTRATING THAT THE COMMISSION ITSELF WAS "IN CRISIS" BECAUSE OF CERTAIN MEMBERS' UNPROFESSIONAL BEHAVIOR. END NOTE)."
There is no obvious reason to redact these passages. No informants are named. Cardinal Keeler is a public figure, and it is not conceivable why his position in this very important matter should be kept secret. The cable does not name the Jewish members of the committee that allegedly insulted Gumpel. Overall, the only effect of these redactions is that they downplay the conflicts within the commission.
This primary source was edited in a way that its content was drastically altered. This fact is even more puzzling as it was far more discrete than the many newspaper reports on the matter, which have appeared over the years. For instance, the Telegraph named one of the members of the commission who disagreed with Gumpel.