Former spy tells of campaign to discredit Pius XII

Further evidence of a Soviet plot to frame Pope Pius XII as “Hitler’s Pope” has been revealed in a new book co-authored by a former Romanian intelligence chief.

Ion Mihai Pacepa, who defected to the United States in 1978, previously claimed he was part of a KGB-led campaign of disinformation to discredit the wartime pontiff, centred on Rolf Hochhuth’s 1968 play The Deputy.

Historians and Cold War-era diplomats initially doubted the story. One of them, Ronald Rychlak, an American law professor and specialist on Pius XII, decided to examine Pacepa’s claim for himself.

Rychlak became so convinced of the veracity of Pacepa’s story that he has now co-authored a book called Disinformation with the former spy.

“Bit by bit, all the pieces fell in place,” Rychlak said. “The new picture answered many questions and made sense out of things that had previously been inexplicable.”

Pacepa is now 84 and living in hiding. When Edward Pentin, the Rome correspondent of the National Catholic Register, tracked him down, he said there is “plenty of hard evidence proving that the portrayal of Pius XII as Hitler’s Pope was born in Moscow”.

Describing the KGB practice of “framing”, he said it was a highly classified disinformation operation in which “mosaics made up of hundreds or even thousands of tiny pieces fitted together”.

“Only a handful of master designers know how the final image will turn out,” he said. “I was peripherally involved in changing the past of Pius XII, but at that time, even I did not know what the final image would look like.”

Pacepa said the campaign against Pius XII actually began in 1945, when Stalin tried to portray him as a Nazi collaborator. That effort was rejected by the contemporary generation “that had lived through the real history and knew who Pope Pius XII really was”.

”The Kremlin tried again in the 1960s, with the next generation, which had not lived through that history and did not know better. This time it worked,” Pacepa said.




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