The president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences says that Israel has 15 sets of archives relating to Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust which are not open to historical researchers.
Walter Brandmuller, president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, one of the organisers of a meeting due to take place in Rome in November on the 50th anniversary of the death of Pius XII, cited in particular the World Jewish Congress, AFP reports.
"I do not understand some critics as most of the Vatican documentation is accessible... while others do not make their documents available," he told reporters at the Vatican.
Historians are demanding that they be allowed to freely consult all of the Vatican archives concerning World War II. Only parts are currently accessible.
According to Brandmuller, however, 15 Israeli archive collections keep documents to which they do not allow access.
Pius XII served as pope from 1939-1958 and his role during the war is viewed as controversial.
Many historians accuse him of staying silent and doing little to intervene during the Holocaust, when Nazi Germany killed some six million Jews in Europe. The Vatican however has highlighted Pius XII's efforts to shelter Jews during the occupation of Rome by Hitler's troops.
Pope Benedict XVI last December created a special panel to study the possible sainthood of Pius XII.
Vatican sources told one news agency the pope did not want to proceed and saw the creation of a special commission as the best way of postponing a decision, AFP says.
The possible sainthood of Pius XII is a source of tension with Jewish organisations.
Latvian priest declared "Righteous"
In another story, the Latvian priest father Kasimir Vilnis has been awarded the title ”Righteous among the Nations” by Yad Vashem, the authority responsible in Israel, the Diocese of Stockholm reports.
Fr Kasimir saved the lives of Jews, risking his own life, during the second World War.
During the war Fr Kasimir was parish priest in Riga, and he hid Jews in the Church and in houses belonging to the Church.
When the communists were about to occupy Latvia, he had to flee. In 1944 he came to Sweden where he resided till the end of his life in 1988.
Catholics in Sweden remember him as a good-hearted man, a good priest - who loved a joke. During all the years in Sweden he kept in contact with his Latvian relatives and with Latvians all over the world.
He never spoke about how he helped Jews during the war, even though he as late as the year before he died was awarded a medal for his help by the Latvian-Jewish society in USA.
Proof for his effort was brought forward by the Catholic diocese in Stockholm.
As result Yad Vashem named him "Righteous among the Nations" on March 27 this year.
The medal and diploma will be handed over to his relatives in Latvia by the Israeli embassy in Riga at a later date.
"I am grateful that an effort, done secretly, is acknowledged. It also shows the close bonds between Jews and Christians. F Kasimirs effort is one more proof that even during the hardest of times we human beings have the possibility to reach out to our fellow man and make the choice to do what is good and just," Stockholm Bishop Anders Arborelius OCD said.
Fr Kasimir Vilnis was born in Nautreni, Latvia in December 1907, where his parents, Petris and Eugenija were farmers. He was ordained in Riga 1933. In November 1944 he fled to Sweden where he lived till he died in 1988. All his life he kept in contact with his sisters in Latvia, where his relatives still live.
Vatican demands opening of Israeli archives (AFP, 18/6/08)
Latvian priest named "Righteous among the Nations" by Israel (Diocese of Stockholm, Media Release, 18/6/08)
Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences (Gcatholic)