A Vatican spokesman in Rome, Federico Lombardi, said: "The ambassador is therefore happily responding to the invitation, ensuring the presence of the Holy See to such a significant event."
 
'Neutral position'

"... it was inappropriate to link an issue of historical research with commemoration of the victims of the Holocaust"

Statement from Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem

The caption said that, during World War Two, Pius XII, "abstained from signing the Allied declaration condemning the extermination of the Jews" and "maintained his neutral position throughout the war".

Defenders of the wartime pontiff have said he did everything possible to help Jews, while critics have portrayed him as an anti-Semite whose views were formed while working in Germany before his election as pope in 1939.

The museum, in a statement, said: "Yad Vashem believes that it was inappropriate to link an issue of historical research with commemoration of the victims of the Holocaust."

Avner said the museum "would be pleased to examine any new documentation that may come to light on the issue".

Yad Vashem, which contains the largest archive of data on the Jewish holocaust in which six million Jews were killed, has called on the Vatican to open its archives relating to Pius XII "to possibly learn new and different information" about him.