Pope Benedict XVI declared Pius XII and John Paul II as "venerable", moving them closer to canonisation.
The beatification process of Pius XII, who was Pope during the Second World War, has been a source of tension with some Jewish groups, the BBC reports.
He is accused of not having done enough to save Jews from the Holocaust, and Jewish leaders have previously asked Benedict to freeze the process that could lead to eventual sainthood for Pius, until more Second World War archives could be studied.
The Vatican said Pius XII saved many Jews by having them hidden in religious institutions in Rome and abroad, the report said.
The head of Germany's Central Jewish Council, Stephan Kramer, said Benedict was "rewriting history", according to an AFP report in the Sydney Morning Herald.
"This is a clear hijacking of historical facts concerning the Nazi era," he said. "Benedict XVI rewrites history without having allowed a serious scientific discussion. That's what makes me furious."
But Cardinal George Pell is cited saying in the Sydney Morning Herald report: "I'm a great supporter of Pius XII. He was dealt an appallingly difficult set of cards ... he did an enormous amount for the Jews."
The two former pontiffs are two steps away from eventual sainthood: beatification and then canonisation.
Pope John Paul II and Pius XII move closer to sainthood (BBC)
Anger grows at Nazi-era pontiff (Sydney Morning Herald/AFP)