Authors: Pope Pius XII Was Framed by KGB

Friday, 24 Aug 2012 09:38 AM

By Edward Pentin

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When former Romanian intelligence chief General Ion Mihai Pacepa made sensational claims in 2007 that Pope Pius XII was the victim of a Soviet plot to frame him as a Nazi sympathizer, historians and even even some of Pius’s defenders were skeptical.

Yet as new evidence has come to light, Pacepa’s claims are gaining wider support. The former spy chief, who defected to the United States in 1978, has just completed a new book called “Disinformation” in which, together with Ronald Rychlak, an expert on Pius XII and the Holocaust, he explains how the intricate framing operation was carried out.

Pope-Pius-XII.jpg
Photo of Pope Pius XII is seen next to a new text in Hebrew and English in the museum at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem.
(Getty Images)
The book promises to paint an intricate picture of the nefarious methods and labyrinthine plots used by the KGB to frame anti-communists such as the wartime Pope. CIA director James Woolsey writes in the book’s introduction that it “will change the way you look at intelligence, foreign affairs, the press and much else.”

Its authors hope to show the extent to which the Kremlin’s disinformation campaign thwarted the truth becoming known about Pius XII — a Pope who, according to recently discovered historical evidence, saved more Jewish lives during World War II than any other religious and political leader combined.

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Rychlak, a law professor at the University of Mississippi, was initially sceptical of a Kremlin plot, but rather than let the claims pass and fade away, he spent the next two years combing through documents to see if Pacepa’s claims would add up. “Bit by bit, all the pieces fell in place,” he told me. “The new picture answered many questions and made sense out of things that had previously been inexplicable.”

The former Romanian spy chief remains in hiding for his own protection, but through the Pave the Way Foundation, a charity that seeks to bridge sectarian divisions, he explained via email his proof of a KGB plot against Pius. But he said that to recognize such evidence of disinformation, “one should be familiar with the Kremlin’s very secret “science” of changing the past in order to suit current priorities.”

“In KGB jargon, changing the past was called “framing,” and it was a highly classified disinformation specialty,” he explained, adding that the operations were “like 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 continued. “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.”

He gave examples of how such framing operations were executed, such as Stalin’s ruthless methods to falsify historical facts to fit into his own plans in the 1930s, and Pacepa’s own disinformation operations as head of Romanian intelligence in the 1970s. He explained how he managed to hoodwink Western heads of state, intelligence officers and others into believing that Romania’s dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, was an admirable, pro-Western leader when, in fact, “he was a two-bit Dracula.” Ceausescu was executed by his own people in 1989, but Pacepa said that few in the West “looked back to speculate about how they had been so misled.”

His upcoming book, he explained, “contains solid, primary evidence documenting how the immense KGB disinformation machinery was able to flip the image of Pius XII from lily white to coal black — just as it flipped the image of Ceausescu in reverse.”

Pacepa further revealed how the framing of the ardently anti-communist Pope actually began in 1945. Concerned only for his own image, and fresh from victory after World War II, Stalin had one more enemy he wanted to defeat: the Ukrainian Catholic Church — the last Vatican enclave in the Soviet Union.

According to Pacepa, after persecuting the Church there, he set about trying to portray Pius XII as a Nazi collaborator, proclaiming on Radio Moscow in 1945 that Pius XII had been “Hitler’s Pope.”

But the campaign fell flat as those who knew Pius XII knew he could never have been a Nazi sympathizer. At the time, his wartime efforts to protect religious minorities were being roundly praised by such prominent world figures as President Roosevelt, Winston Churchill (who described Pius as “the greatest man of our time”), and Albert Einstein.

“They knew who Pope Pius XII really was,” Pacepa said. “[So] 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.”

Central to that framing effort — codenamed Operation Seat 12 — was the 1963 theatrical play, “The Deputy,” written by the communist German playwright, Rolf Hochhuth.

Pacepa and Rychlak explain in the book that it had the KGB’s “hands all over it” and proceed to present evidence of deep Communist and Kremlin involvement in its promotion.

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In his interview, Pacepa lamented that such disinformation methods continue to be used by Russia today, not least in its efforts to manipulate religions in order to consolidate its power.

“In Russia, the more things change, the more they seem to stay the same,” he said. “The science of disinformation has proven to be such a miracle weapon that the Russians remain addicted to it.”

Edward Pentin began reporting on the Vatican as a correspondent with Vatican Radio in 2002. He has covered the Pope and the Holy See for a number of publications, including Newsweek, and The Sunday Times. Read more reports from Edward Pentin — Click Here Now.

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