updated 3/4/2009 7:03:39 PM ET 2009-03-05T00:03:39

Vatican Radio said Wednesday that a 1943 document found in a Rome convent bolsters church contentions that Pope Pius XII tried to save Jews from Nazis in World War II.

Some historians and Jewish groups contend that the wartime pontiff didn't speak out enough against the Holocaust, while the Vatican insists that the late pope used quiet diplomacy to help Jews.

Vatican Radio reported the discovery of a note, kept in a cloistered monastery near the Colosseum, which lists the names of 24 people who were taken in by the nuns "in accordance with Pius' desire."

The note carried a November 1943 date, Vatican Radio said. In October 1943, more than 2,000 Jews were rounded up in the city's Old Ghetto neighborhood and deported to concentration camps while the Italian capital was under Nazi occupation. Only about 100 Jews survived to return to Italy.

Got document from nuns
A German Jesuit who has been spearheading efforts for beatification for Pius, told Vatican Radio he obtained the document from nuns based in the convent.

The Rev. Peter Gumpel contended that the lists provides "further confirmation that can be useful against those who persistently want to denigrate Pius XII and thus attack the Catholic church."

Beatification is the last formal step before sainthood.

Israeli officials and Jewish groups have said that as long as Vatican archives on Pius' papacy remain closed to researchers, the question over what the pontiff did or didn't do to save Jews remains unresolved.

Last year, Pope Benedict XVI, in a tribute to Pius, insisted the late pontiff worked quietly behind the scenes to save as many Jews as possible. He has expressed hope the path for sainthood could move ahead, but also reportedly agreed to consider freezing the process until the Vatican's wartime archives are opened to researchers.

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