From WWII to the 2020s
Officially, the Vatican does not have spies… but it does deal with intelligence. The Holy See has always been the target of foreign intelligence services. Convinced that the Vatican has an unparalleled network, they either want to penetrate its secrets or make it an ally.
During the Second World War and the Cold War, Rome was a nest of spies from all countries. Undercover monsignori and ordinary priests were involved in operations ranging from the hunt for « moles » to secret diplomacy, from investigations into the murder of priests to scandals that could tarnish the Church, as well as high-risk missions on the other side of the Iron Curtain.
For the first time, this book tells the story of eighty years of secret wars and dirty tricks. The infiltration of Russian-speaking priests into the Soviet Union under Stalin, almost all of whom were unmasked by the KGB, the secret negotiations conducted by John XXIII with Khrushchev through unconventional intermediaries, the close relationship of Cardinal Montini, the future Paul VI, with the CIA, the aggressive infiltration of the Vatican by the various services of the Eastern bloc, the secret funds of the Vatican bank intended to fight communism… these episodes draw another history of the contemporary papacy.
The fall of communism marked the victory of John Paul II, the pope who was most involved in secret operations. Other underground confrontations have pitted certain groups within the Church (such as the Jesuits and Opus Dei) against each other, with methods worthy of the secret services and the involvement of the CIA. Finally, the controversial financial affairs of the Church in the 1970s and 1980s had effects that are still unknown, such as the 1981 assassination attempt in St. Peter’s Square, whose sponsors were not in Moscow but in Rome.
About the author : French historian and editor, specialist in intelligence, Yvonnick Denoël has published half a dozen successful books on the history of espionage.