"A page turning book....Fascinating."The Wall Street Journal
"A groundbreaking new history of the Vatican-German resistance....Writing with the craft of a novelist and the conscience of a meticulous scholar, Riebling has produced a masterly account."National Review
"A remarkable book....[Riebling] has written what is one of more important books on intelligence of the year."Washington Times
"An amazing book that combines the rigor of history with the storytelling of a novel."War on the Rocks
"[A] blockbuster of a book which not only defends Pius XII...but utterly demolishes the Black Legend by showing in intricate and meticulously documented detail...that from the very start of the war the Pope cooperated secretly with anti-Nazi forces in Hitler's thousand year Reich who sought, first, to remove the Führer from power; and when that failed, to kill him.... Riebling's book is beautifully written, and reads like a novel.... [R]iveting."Catholic World Report
"While the Pope hesitated to publicly provoke Hitler in foolhardy way, he had no hesitation in secretly opposing the Third Reich and its crimes. The record of the assistance Pius XII provided, through his representatives, to the German resistance, and the actions they took, under his guidance, is extraordinary. Without minimizing the complicity of individual Christians, or the role of Christian anti-Semitism, Mark Riebling shows that the Vatican took a very powerful stance against the Nazis. It is especially important for Jewish people-and I am Jewish myself-that this information is now being gathered for all to see."Sir Martin Gilbert, official biographer of Winston Churchill
"[F]ascinating...offers a compelling narrative of the actions taken by Pope Pius to stop Hitler from carrying out his campaign of world domination and ethnic cleansing. Backed by a mass of carefully compiled documentation, Riebling shows that Pius cooperated in a variety of plots, initiated by patriotic, anti-Nazi Germans, to assassinate Hitler and replace the National Socialist regime with a government that would make peace with the west."Breitbart News
"Church of Spies shows, with significant research to back it up, that Pope Pius the Twelfth was not, in fact, Hitler's Pope, as he has wrongly been called, but quite the contrary, an enemy of Hitler's who worked behind the scenes against him. Mark Riebling documents how people of faith linked arms against evil that was Nazism and did not turn a blind eye against it. This is a fascinating, riveting, and a deeply important corrective to the false narrative about the Catholic church during World War II."Eric Metaxas, New York Times #1 bestselling author, nationally syndicated radio host
"In this exciting and original work, Mark Riebling has unearthed vital new sources, and he writes elegantly and persuasively on a fascinating subject that has remained hidden in history's shadows."Michael Burleigh, author of The Third Reich: A New History
"In Church of Spies, Mark Riebling provides a groundbreaking and riveting account of Pope Pius XII's secret war against Hitler. This richly documented book makes an important contribution to contemporary scholarship about Pius XII and to our understanding of the historical legacy of his pontificate."Rabbi David Dalin, author of The Myth of Hitler's Pope
"Church of Spies sheds light on the secret actions and covert war waged by Pius, the Vatican, the German Catholic Church, and various German Catholic citizens against Hitler and the Nazis.... By weaving together numerous storylines in a chronological fashion from 1939 to 1945, the history of this period reads more like an exciting popular fiction spy novel than an academic work.... [A]n extremely readable and interesting work."H-Net
"Riebling recounts in a fast, readable style the fumblings, betrayals, and bad luck that plagued attempts to remove Hitler. Through it all, he shows the Vatican looming in the background-the only support on which the conspirators could count, the only consistent contact they had with the Allies, and one of the few moral centers to which they could look."Joseph Bottum, Washington Free Beacon
"[Church of Spies] adds a mass of new evidence to what we know, now, about what the Pope and the Church did to deal with the mortal threat to civilization posed by Hitler and German National Socialism."George Weigel, author of First Things
Pius XII is sometimes referred to as "Hitler's Pope," and accused of worrying more about communism than the Holocaust. Riebling (Wedge: From Pearl Harbor to 9/11) asserts that instead of sitting passively while the Nazis ravaged Europe, Pius sponsored an intelligence network that sought for five years to assassinate Hitler. Rather than an organization in its own right, the Vatican spy network appears more like a loose association of the Pope's confidants who worked in conjunction with anti-Nazi groups that were comprised of religious figures and members of German military intelligence. The narrative's hero is Josef Muller, a German Catholic lawyer who served as a liaison between the Vatican and the German Resistance, and was one of the few conspirators to survive the war. VERDICT Clandestine organizations are hard to reconstruct and Riebling has mined an impressive array of archival sources to tell this fascinating story, although he tends to get bogged down in extraneous details. While Riebling tries to rehabilitate the Pope's reputation, he recognizes that the Pontiff's silence in the presence of genocide morally compromised him. Recommended for all libraries.—Frederic Krome, Univ. of Cincinnati Clermont Coll.
Riebling (Wedge: The Secret War Between the FBI and CIA, 1994), an expert on secret intelligence, compellingly explores the papacy's involvement in espionage during World War II. Pope Pius XII (1876-1958) was a political pope, and his was a pontificate of war. He valued science and technology and prefigured many leaders by installing an audio spying system in his library. The Holy See was actually hardwired by renowned Italian electrical engineer Guglielmo Marconi. In 1940, the Vatican proposed preventing future aggression with an Economic Union of Europe. The key component was Josef Müller, a Bavarian lawyer whose legal resistance to the Nazis led Heinrich Himmler, after first arresting him for treasonous conspiracy, to invite him to join the SS. Knowing Hitler's hatred for Catholics, and particularly Jesuits, Müller agreed to join the Vatican in facilitating connections between rebellious officers and England. He acted under orders from Adm. Wilhelm Canaris, chief of German military intelligence, as a double spy pretending to undermine the Vatican. Canaris was part of a wide conspiracy led by Gen. Ludwig Beck. Müller's travels between Germany and the Vatican included liaisons with the "Orders Committee" of Jesuits and Dominicans and made him one of the church's most valuable spies, even after his arrest. The pope claimed that Müller's exploits in smuggling, politics, and confounding the Nazis "worked wonders." This book has much to surprise, especially the many German officers, separately and together, involved in attempts on Hitler's life. There were many other "decent Germans" who hated Hitler, but they couldn't betray their "fatherland." Pius, vilified by critics who believed he ignored Germany's atrocities, comes off as a politically savvy man who realized his interference would precipitate Hitler's mortal overreaction against German Catholics. Not only a dramatic disclosure of the Vatican's covert actions, but also an absorbing, polished story for all readers of World War II history.