George Weigel writes about a story I have seen recently making the rounds of St. Blogs.
Serious scholars have long suspected that the origins of that campaign lie in the anti-Catholic machinations of the KGB, the Soviet intelligence service. Confirmation of that thesis now comes from General Ion Mihai Pacepa, a former Romanian intelligence officer and the highest-ranking Soviet bloc spymaster ever to defect, in an article posted on National Review Online on January 26.
According to General Pacepa, the Soviets, stung by the public relations bludgeoning they had taken because of the persecution of Catholics in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and elsewhere decided to accelerate the anti-Catholic propaganda offensive they had launched toward the end of World War II by depicting the Church as a bulwark of Nazism. Pius XII was the primary target — because, as the KGB liked to say, “Dead men cannot defend themselves.” So the KGB concocted a scheme whereby its Romanian ally would penetrate the Vatican archives, using agents disguised as priests; certain Vatican officials, it seems, took the bait, assured by Romanian operatives that cooperation would lead to official Holy See-Romanian diplomatic relations. No documents incriminating Pius XII were found, but the plot now shifted. In 1963, a senior Soviet intelligence official told his Romanian colleagues that the centerpiece of the anti-Catholic offensive would now be a play defaming Pius XII, The Deputy. Its author, Rolf Hochhuth, was a former Hitler Youth turned communist fellow-traveler; the play was produced by a lifelong communist. The results — for The Deputy was the Pearl Harbor of the Pius War — vindicated KGB chairman Yuri Andropov’s conviction that the gullible find smut easier to believe than holiness.