A new book out this week from author Mark Riebling tells the story of Pope Pius XII during World War II, and his efforts to organize the assassination of Adolph Hitler, beginning even before the war started.
Riebling's new book Church of Spies isn't the first to defend Pius XII, who was labeled Hitler's Pope in the title of author John Cornwell's 1999 book, but it is the latest, most detailed explanation of why the pope appeared to be standing silent to Nazi atrocities during the war.
While the Vatican was officially neutral during WWII, Riebling writes that Piux XII was actually maintaining the appearance of neutrality by not speaking out against the Nazis so he could quietly help organize a coup against the Führer.
From The Daily Mail:
In his book, Riebling tells how the Pope - supposedly neutral throughout the war - toned down his early criticisms of Nazism to focus on aiding a covert network of church spies urging Hitler's death.
He says Pius kept a veneer of impartiality in order to scheme against Hitler, an implacable opponent of the Catholic church, which he saw as an obstacle to the German people fully accepting Nazism.
The Nazi leader also ranked Catholics among the most likely to strike at him, once saying the greatest dangers would come from 'assassins whipped up by the black crows in confessionals'.
Explaining his difficult position once to a French diplomat during the war, Pius reportedly said: 'You know which side my sympathies lie. But I cannot say so.'
Pius XII, who apparently went by the code name "the chief," communicated with German spies and contacts in the German resistance who would secretly fly to Rome. One of those contacts was even close friends with the head of Hitler's bodyguard, the book says.
As we know from history class, Hitler survived the many attempts to assassinate him, but ended up shooting himself in his underground bunker in 1945 as the Allies closed in.