Vatican delays the release of Pius XII war archives
Some have accused Pope Pius XII of remaining silent during the killing of thousands of Jews.
Vatican City -- Secret Vatican archives on Pope Pius XII's controversial World War II pontificate will not be made public for at least another "six or seven years," the papal spokesman said Thursday.
"Before then, it is unrealistic to think [they] will be made accessible to researchers," Father Federico Lombardi said to the ANSA news agency.
Lombardi was commenting on requests made by Jewish groups and many historians to access its records on the war-time pontiff, who some accuse of not speaking out against the Nazis during the Holocaust.
Last week, the Vatican announced Pope Benedict XVI was putting moves to have Pius beatified on hold -- an important step towards Roman Catholic sainthood -- in order to take time for "reflection" on the issue.
According to Lombardi, archive material relating to the period amounted to 16 million papers requiring a "long and patient" cataloguing process.
"Naturally, once the ordering work has been completed, given that the secret archives belong to the Pope, the final decision on their opening rests with the Holy Father," Lombardi said.
Representatives of the International Jewish Committee for Inter-religious Consultations issued the latest request to the Vatican to open the archives on Thursday.
The group's president, Rabbi David Rosen, made the appeal during a meeting with Benedict at the Vatican, ANSA reported.
The Vatican has repeatedly defended Italian born Pius XII, who had reigned from 1939 until his death, citing his instructions that Jews be sheltered from the Nazis in Catholic homes, hospitals, convents and monasteries.
This covert approach, Pius' supporters argue, managed to avoid provoking further Nazi action that would have worsened the situation.