Pope Pius XII is accused of helping Adolf Hitler during World War II   (Wiki Comms)
Pope Pius XII is accused of helping Adolf Hitler during World War II (Wiki Comms)

Questioned raised about 'Hitler's Pope' Pius XII about his role during the 30s and 40s could be answered if Pope Francis opens the Vatican's archives.

Rabbi Abraham Skorka, a friend of the current Pontiff for the past 20 years, says he has had a discussion with Pope Francis about the actions of Pius XII - the man long dubbed 'Hitler's Pope'.

Pope Piu has been accused of co-operating with Adolf Hitler and the fascist Italian regime during World War II. He has also been criticised for remaining silent about the Holocaust during his reign which began in 1939.

These suspicions have been heightened as the Vatican has refused to give scholars access to the archives from his reign.

However, there is also evidence which suggests that Pius helped save around 200,000 Jews by arranging an exodus from Germany in the 1930s.

Speaking to The Tablet, Skorka has now said the Argentine former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio could be willing to open the files on Pius in order to fully clarify 'Hitler's Pope' actions during WWII.

He said: "It's a terribly sensitive issue, but he says that it must be investigated thoroughly.

"I have no doubt that he will move to open the archives."

Francis previously called for opening the Vatican archives when he was a cardinal in Argentina, saying it would be necessary to investigate Pius, according to The Jewish Week.

Before he retired from the conclave, Pope Benedict XVI praised Pius's "heroic virtues", moving him one step closer to sainthood.

This caused several objections, with Skorka arguing that Pius XII should not be made a saint until his wartime role had been properly examined.

Skorka added that he believed Pope Francis will become a "revolutionary" Pope and opening the Vatican archives would be one way of doing so.

He said: "I think he's going to change everything that he believes needs to be changed.

"He is not a person to take on this role in a passive way.

"He's not a person who stays quiet when he knows that there is work to be done."

Pius was elected pope in 1939 and remained the pontiff until he died in 1958.