Spies in the Vatican

Spies in the Vatican

The Soviet Union's Cold War Against the Catholic Church

Paperback - 2009
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Already infamous for the arbitrary, paranoid persecution of its own citizens throughout much of the twentieth century, the Soviet Union--as is revealed in John Koeher's revelatory, eye-opening exposé--also waged a vicious espionage campaign against the Catholic Church and its followers. From the persecution of local priests to an assassination order against Pope John Paul II, the KGB viewed Catholicism as a threat to stability in Eastern Europe and treated the church as an enemy of the State.

Lifetime journalist and former U.S. Army Intelligence Officer John Koehler has written the definitive book on this startling history. Using never before seen documents and transcripts, including an order against the Pope that was signed by Gorbachev and nine other Politburo members, Koehler paints a vivid picture of the network of spies and double agents who were working to infiltrate the Church's infrastructure, from the Vatican down to local parishes. But what is most impressive is the overwhelming evidence of the extreme courage of everyday believers who offered shelter and protection to the persecuted, despite the danger of their own arrest or execution.

The KGB's efforts to purge the Soviet Union of the church's "conspiratorial influence" would eventually backfire. The shared sense of unity that developed as a result of these attacks, compounded with the myriad of grievances brought on by decades of brutal Soviet rule, would culminate in the birth of the Solidarity movement after a visit by the Pope in the late 1980s.

This unprecedented chronicle of the Soviet Union's cold war against the Catholic Church is a vital and important contribution to the works of twentieth century history.
Publisher: New York : Pegasus Books, 2009.
Edition: 1st Pegasus books ed.
ISBN: 9781605980508
Characteristics: 296 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.


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May 03, 2017

Virtually from the moment of its birth, the Soviet Union sought the end of religion amongst its people and throughout the world. When mass murder failed, the Soviets began a campaign of infiltration and subversion. Although the Catholic Church was targeted from the outset, when the Second World War left the USSR in control of puppet states throughout Eastern Europe the neutralization of the Church became a high priority. The record of this shadow war waged by the Soviets and their proxies against the Church is the subject of John Koehler's Spies in the Vatican.

Although the book briefly summarizes earlier periods, the bulk concerns the pontificate of St John Paul II and his connection with the Solidarity movement, including, most explosively, possible Soviet involvement in the assassination attempt against the Pope in 1981. Unfortunately, Spies in the Vatican lacks any kind of cohesion. The book reads like "random moments in the history of Warsaw Pact espionage" rather than a thorough history of communist subversion of the Catholic Church. This slipshod approach is aggravated by numerous textual errors - "seize fire", "assassimate", "Let sleeping dogs die". At the same time, Koehler demonstrates considerable expertise concerning the history, organization, and records of various intelligence agencies, especially the East German Stasi, and he writes with unwavering moral clarity.


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