Vatican presses case that Pius protected Jews during WWII

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VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican stepped up its defense of Pope Pius XII on Tuesday, countering allegations the wartime pontiff was silent about the Holocaust by saying he saved Jews through his prudent diplomacy.

The Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano dedicated an entire page to praising Pius, including an impassioned tribute from the Holy See's secretary of state, Italian Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

"It was precisely by means of a prudent approach that Pius XII protected Jews and refugees," Bertone wrote in an introduction to a book by a nun about the late pontiff.

Last month, Pope Benedict XVI made one of the strongest defenses yet of Pius, whose death 50 years ago is being marked at the Vatican. Benedict contended that Pius was "courageous" in sparing no effort to save Jews, and on Thursday will celebrate an anniversary Mass in St. Peter's Basilica for him.

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