Catholic scholars ask Pope Benedict XVI to slow Pius XII's path to sainthood

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Catholic scholars from around the world have "implored" Pope Benedict XVI not to make a controversial wartime pontiff a saint before opening up to scrutiny secret Vatican archives.

In a letter to the Pope, the scholars said that making Pius XII a saint could do grave damage to relations between the Catholic Church and Jews and that he had become a de facto "symbol of Christian anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism".

They endorsed demands made by Jewish groups that Vatican archives covering Pius's papacy, from 1939 to 1958, must be opened up before the Church decides whether his predecessor is worthy of being made a saint. They are believed to contain details of his efforts to save Jews from the Holocaust.

The Vatican recently said that there were so many files for its archivists to trawl through that the archives will not be made available until 2015.

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