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Monday, February 9, 1998 Published at 09:52 GMT


Vatican urged to open war archives
image: [ Wartime files are due to remain secret for another 50 years ]
Wartime files are due to remain secret for another 50 years

The Vatican is coming under pressure to open wartime archives over claims that it had links with Nazi war criminals.

Two British peers, Lord Janner and Lord Hunt, are meeting senior papal officials in Rome, urging them to release files due to remain secret for another 50 years.

The Vatican has refused to open its wartime files because it says individuals would be compromised but the BBC has learned that the Catholic hierarchy in Britain also wants Rome to change its mind.

[ image: Gold was looted by Nazis]
Gold was looted by Nazis
The Vatican's wartime past was put under the spotlight at the international conference on Nazi gold held in London two months ago.

Newly discovered intelligence documents implicate the Vatican bank in receiving gold looted by the fascist Croatian regime from Jews, Serbs and gypsies.

Some of the money may have been smuggled to South America, along with Nazis and collaborators, aided by Catholic priests.

[ image: Lord Janner will meet cardinals]
Lord Janner will meet cardinals
Lord Janner, chairman of the Holocaust Educational Trust, is meeting two cardinals and Archbishop Tauran, a senior adviser to the Pope, on Monday.

The BBC's Home Affairs Correspondent, Jon Silverman, says Monsignor Tauran has been contacted by the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Basil Hume, who told him of the anxieties of Britain's Jewish community over the issue.


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