.- On Tuesday evening, a 30-member panel of top Catholic prelates voted in favour of recognising Pius's "heroic virtues" - the key requirement for beatification, the penultimate stage before sainthood.
Details of the meeting were not released but Italian media reported on Wednesday that the vote revealed reservations among some cardinals who urged "prudence". The decree now goes to Pope Benedict for a final green light. Then, before the beatification ceremony can go ahead, the Vatican must approve a miracle attributed to Pius's heavenly intercession.
Born into a noble Roman family, Eugenio Pacelli has frequently come under attack for not speaking out more forcefully while Hitler was hunting down and exterminating European Jews.
Supporters have also pointed out that, under the pope's orders, convents, monasteries and other Catholic institutions threw open their doors to Jews who were hidden and protected there. Many were also hidden in the Vatican.