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They're not really locked up anymore. The most important documents are available online through the Vatican's official website, and professionals are allowed to browse if they can be trusted not to damage the delicate documents.
In the old days it was a different story. The Vatican barely tolerated even letting anyone see old copies of the New Testament, let alone "heretical" materials. This tells me the Catholic Church doesn't have nearly as much to hide as it did in the past. Indeed they're far more willing to get along with Protestants and minor dissenters than they were then.
Fortunately, all of the most important sources were discovered independent of the Vatican, usually hiding in old jars in the desert. The Vatican probably wasn't even aware of them before the discoveries.
I do however think our most reliable sources are all contained in the New Testament, aside from maybe the gospel of Thomas. I'm more interested in how altered they are (which I've found is a LOT, though not always in a bad way).