The call from the New York-based Anti-Defamation League came a day after a panel of Jewish and Catholic historians announced they had suspended their research into the Vatican's wartime record, saying they couldn't proceed without access to the documents.
The panel was appointed by the Vatican and another Jewish organization in 1999 to examine the wartime actions of Pope Pius XII, who has been accused by Jews of having failed to speak out while the Holocaust was going on.
The group put out a preliminary report in October, based on review of already released Vatican papers, which described a pope intent on fruitless diplomacy as reports of atrocities poured into the Vatican.
The Vatican official in charge of relations with other religions, Cardinal Walter Kasper, told the panelists in a June 21 letter that documents dating after 1923 wouldn't be available to them for "technical reasons."
Catholic members of the panel said the reams of documents merely weren't ready for release because the two Vatican archivists hadn't catalogued and bound them.
Panelists acknowledged they were never promised access to the documents -- and in fact had never demanded to see the papers. But in a July 20 letter to Kasper announcing their decision to suspend their work, the panelists said they had hoped that during the course of their research the documents would be made available.
Meanwhile, in an indication of the divisiveness of the issue, one of the Catholic panelists said Tuesday he was disassociating himself from the press release announcing the suspension.
The release from the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations quoted its chairman, Seymour Reich, as expressing deep disappointment that the Vatican hadn't opened its books.
The Rev. Gerald Fogarty, a professor of church history and theology at the University of Virginia, said he was not disappointed by the Vatican's decision. Kasper "never made or could make any promise that any questions we raised would be answered from documents in the archives," Fogarty wrote.
Only the Holy See's secretary of state has jurisdiction over releasing the papers, Fogarty said.