By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – One of the most influential groups of Holocaust survivors accused Nazi-era Pope Pius XII on Monday of keeping “silent in the face of absolute evil” and asked the Vatican to freeze his sainthood process.

The New York-based group, The American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, announced a global campaign to lobby Vatican ambassadors so that Pope Benedict will put the sainthood process for his predecessor on hold.

“What we as survivors and their children seek to convey to our friends at the Vatican is our moral anguish and deep pain at this moment,” Elan Steinberg, the group’s vice president, said in a statement.