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Church of Spies

the Pope’s secret war against Hitler

Church of Spies by Mark Riebling
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A radical reinterpretation of the wartime Pope

Born Eugenio Pacelli, Pope Pius XII is perhaps the most vilified and detested Pope in modern history. Pius XII and the Vatican are thought to have appeased Hitler and betrayed international Jewry by staying silent during the Holocaust. The accusation has fundamentally damaged the Catholic Church’s moral standing, and earned Pius XII the nickname ‘Hitler’s Pope’. But this narrative — of a spiritual leader who stumbled in the world’s greatest hour of need, of a man determined to look the other way — is not the complete story.

In Church of Spies, intelligence expert Mark Riebling uses a wealth of recently uncovered documents to redraw the conventional image of the wartime Pope, who, in his account, was not Hitler’s lackey, but an active anti-Nazi spymaster. Using documents recently released by the Vatican Secret Archives and the British Foreign Office, Riebling shows that the Church’s wartime campaign against Hitler was far more extensive than ever thought — and that many actions were intended to undermine the Nazi regime, and were approved by Pius XII himself.

In the end, Pius XII was neither a righteous gentile nor Hitler’s Pope. He was a politician, at a time when the world needed a prophet.


‘Riebling, an expert on secret intelligence, compellingly explores the papacy’s involvement in espionage during World War II … This book has much to surprise, especially the many German officers, separately and together, involved in attempts on Hitler’s life … Pius, vilified by critics who believed he ignored Germany’s atrocities, comes off as a politically savvy man who realized his interference would precipitate Hitler’s mortal overreaction against German Catholics. Not only a dramatic disclosure of the Vatican’s covert actions, but also an absorbing, polished story for all readers of World War II history.’ Kirkus

‘[A] revealing history of Pius’ wartime dealings with the German resistance to Nazi rule … Readers will be surprised at the steady stream of anti-Hitler conspiracies, several of which reached the point where dates were set and bombs assembled.’ Military History

Scribe Publications Pty Ltd; September 2015
384 pages; ISBN 9781925307139
Read online, or download in secure EPUB
Title: Church of Spies
Author: Mark Riebling

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