Vatican official slams criticism of wartime pope

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- The Vatican's No. 2 official has slammed as "outrageous" allegations that Pope Pius XII didn't do enough to save Jews during World War II.

Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone on Thursday condemned the criticism by some historians and Jewish groups of the wartime pope.

Pope Benedict XVI recently said he hoped the path for sainthood could move ahead but also reportedly agreed to consider freezing the process until the Vatican's wartime archives are opened.

Bertone said the possible beatification, the last formal step before sainthood, is an internal affair and "a religious matter that requires respect."

The Vatican rejects criticism that Pius didn't speak out publicly to condemn the Holocaust, maintaining that he used quiet diplomacy to save thousands.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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