Pope Benedict XVI has lauded his World War II-era predecessor for his "righteous" attempts to save Jews from Nazi persecution, in a new book set to published Thursday.

The book, in question and answer format with the German Catholic journalist Peter Seewald, will be released in various languages and covers a wide range of topics.

He dedicates sections to homosexuality, the use of condoms, and Pope Pius XII, among other topics.

With regard to Pope Pius, who was widely criticized for his silence during the war and his failure to explicitly denounce the Holocaust, Benedict declares that:

"At the present time, we have new, clever people who say that, while he did save many lives, he had old-fashioned ideas about Jews that fall short of Vatican II (the 1962-65 Church Council). But that is not the question.

"The decisive thing is what he did and what he tried to do, and on that score we really must acknowledge, I believe, that he was one of the great righteous men and that he saved more Jews than anyone else," writes Benedict.

Dr. Michael Hesemann, a German historian who is combing through the Vatican archives for the U.S.-based Pave the Way Foundation, has found in recent research that Pope Pius XII may have arranged the exodus of about 200,000 Jews from Germany just three weeks after Kristallnacht.

The new research shows that the perception of Pius XII as "Hitler's Pope" may be historically incorrect.