Has anyone read this book?

Has any one read this book?

Spies in the Vatican: The Soviet Union’s War Against the Catholic Church by John Kohler?

I take conspiracy books with large blocks of salt.

However, there were some summers in Rome when my resisdence was closed for a while and I had to find a temporary billet.  Two of the places I went were the Czech College and a Ukrainian monastery on the Aventine.  In both cases it was before the fall of the Soviet Union.

In both places, people were very suspicious and reserved until they got to know me.  At the Czech College listening bugs had been found in the walls after some repairs.  The older Ukranian priests, from Ukraine, had horror stories, as did the Czechs. 

There is little doubt in my mind that there was a plan to infiltrate the Church with sleeper agents, hoping they would rise to power.  Communists were not the only ones to do this.

However, people can get a little unhinged about these tales.

If anyone has read this book and has an opinion, I would welcome insights.


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  1. Tom Ryan says:

    Looks interesting and I heard similar stories myself while in Rome. But talking in public about books like this or AA-1025 by Marie Carre will earn you nothing but derision from the likes of fellow bloggers such as Mark Shea or Sandra Miesel.

    Seems some people can’t see how the supernatural dimension of the Church would draw attacks from evil.

  2. robtbrown says:

    I have not read the book, but I was once told that the KGB had had a mole at the Russicum. Priests were being ordained, then sent to Russia under cover, but their throats were then slit.

    And then there is the well known case of the German Benedictine and STASI.


  3. Childermass says:

    Father, it is all too plausible. Why would one be surprised that the Soviet-directed Communists would attempt to infiltrate and destroy the Church from within? That was their favored tactic with all institutions.

    I have a 1954 memoir by Bella Dodd, a prominent US Communist Party member in the 1930s and 1940s who later converted to the Church, in which she testified to the shocking attempts of the Communists to penetrate the Church from within, including in her seminaries.

    We must not also forget the slander of Pope Pius XII, originated by the Communists.

  4. Aaron says:

    The Soviets tried to infiltrate every other major institution in the world; it’d be crazy to think they didn’t try it with the Church. And if they could get people as far up in US government as Alger Hiss, it’d probably be naive to think they didn’t get some into the Church hierarchy.

    I haven’t read this book yet (it’s been recommended by some friends, though), but I did recently read one called Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century. I was struck by how, every time a socialist revolution rose up in a nation (which happened a lot more often than I learned in school), one of the first things they did was to start persecuting the Church. In some cases, like in the USSR or Nazi Germany, that meant sending priests to concentration camps or firing squads. In others, like Mexico, it meant banning Mass and kicking priests out of the country. But in every case, socialists recognized that the Church was a major obstacle to their goals that had to be countered somehow.

  5. CSED says:

    I have not read this book, but I remember the testimony of Dr. Bella Dodd in the 1950’s, after she left the Communist Party USA. She did testify to having helped Communists enter Catholic seminaries for the purpose of becoming ordained and serving as “moles” within the Church.
    One wonders where they are now?
    Her book “School of Darkness” is long out of print but is a well-written description of Communist tactics in the United States.

  6. Rouxfus says:

    Bella Dodd was brought into the church by Arhbishop Fulton Sheen in April, 1952. You can read her memoir of her days as a Communist agent in the United States, “School of Darkness” here:


    Her Wikipedia entry is somewhat interesting:


    But what really is interesting is that you can look at the History tab and see that lots of interesting points of information about her life, including the fact of her conversion to the Catholic faith, have been scrubbed. Here is a good pre-scrubbed version:


    Another interesting story, which seems to confirm the international nature of the effort to infiltrate the Church, is found in a book “AA-1025 – The Memoirs of an Anti-Apostle” published by TAN Books.

    In the 1960’s, a French Catholic nurse, Marie Carre, attended an auto-crash victim who was brought into her hospital in a city she purposely does not name. The man lingered there near death for a few hours and then died. He had no identification on him, but he had a briefcase in which there was a set of quasi-biographical notes. She kept these notes and read them, and because of their extraordinary content, decided to publish them. The result is this little book, AA-1025—The Memoirs of an Anti-Apostle, about a Communist who purposely entered the Catholic priesthood (along with many, many others) with the intent to subvert and destroy the Church from within. This little book, his strange yet fascinating and illuminating set of biographical notes, tells of his commission to enter the priesthood, his various experiences in the seminary, and the means and methods he used and promoted to help effect from within the auto-dissolution of the Catholic Church.

    Chapter 8 of the book is excerpted here:


    Here’s a salient excerpt:

    It was during those days that I launched on the market (we could almost say) the program that would allow Catholics to be accepted by Protestants.

    Catholics had hoped too much for the return of Protestantism to the fold of the Mother Church. It was time that they should lose their arrogance. Charity made it a duty for them. When charity is at stake – I pretended, laughing up my sleeve – nothing wrong can happen. I prophesied with assurance – so that this would be repeated in the same tones – the suppression of Latin, of priestly vestments, of statues and images, of candles and prie-dieu (so that they could kneel no more).

    And I also started a very active campaign for the suppression of the Sign of the Cross. This Sign is practiced only in Roman and Greek Churches. It is time that the latter take notice that they offend other people, who have as many qualities and as much holiness as they have. This Sign, and also genuflections, are all ridiculous customs. I also prophesied (and we were then in 1940) the disappearance of altars, replaced by a completely bare table, and also of all the crucifixes, in order that Christ be considered as a man, not as a God. I insisted that Mass be only a community meal, to which all would be invited, even unbelievers. And I came to the following prophecy: Baptism for the modern man has become ridiculously magical. Whether given by immersion or not, Baptism must be abandoned in favor of an adult religion.

    I searched for the means of suppressing the Pope, but I could not find the possibility of doing so. As long as we would not say that the play on words of Christ, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it,” was invented by a zealous Roman (but how can we prove that – it is not enough that this were possible), a Pope would always be in power. I consoled myself by hoping that we would surely succeed in making him look foolish. The important thing was to cry out against him every time that he started something new and even when he revived old customs too hard to be followed.


    It was child’s play to persuade them that they must implement a return to the sources and a brilliant modernization. I suggested that the zeal to give us, in all languages, new Biblical translations in modern style must not be slowed down. There also, I noted a lively competition. I did not mention the financial aspect of the problem, but the number of translations allowed us to notice that this aspect had not escaped the vigilance of Churchmen. The modernization of God’s Word often allowed the Church’s obstinacy to diminish. And that was done in a very natural way. Every time that a word seemed rarely used and risked not being understood, it was replaced by a word altogether simple – and, of course, always to the detriment of the real meaning. How could I complain about this? Besides, these new translations facilitated the Biblical dialogue upon which we laid great hope.

  7. Oleksander says:

    of course the reds infiltrated to destroy the Faith, do you think the French Church went to hell by random chance?

  8. MikeM says:

    I haven’t read this book, but I’ve heard good things about it. And, I know John Kohler writes well researched books. He’s not known for drastically over-sensationalizing.

  9. lucy says:

    Fr. – Could you please tell me where I might find your comments about Malachi Martin’s book, Windswept House ? I’ve looked in vain, but I remember you talked about it.

  10. albizzi says:

    There is the true report of the French spy colonel Arnould whom the Pope Pius XII hired in the fifties. This man was given by a Lutheran bishop of Sweden the proof that Mgr Montini had regular secret talks with the Soviets although the Pope strictly had forbidden this. One month later, Montini was dismissed from his Secretariat of State post in Vatican and nominated archbishop of Milano. In doing so, the Pope hindered him to be ever promoted as cardinal. Fortunately for Montini the new Pope John XXIII thought such an act of disobedience to his predecessor wasn’t serious matter and bestowed him the cardinal’s hat thus opening him the way to papacy.
    Much more serious was the fact that in the wake of Montini was an infiltrated communist agent, Fr Alighiero Tondi S.J. who later defrocked and married. This man contacted the soviets every time any priest was sent beyond the Iron Curtain. All these poor men were arrested, tortured, and executed or sent to the Gulag.

  11. albizzi says:

    I was always stunned by the fact that during the council VATII any talk about Communism wasn’t allowed by the Pope John XXIII, although this council was called, among other issues, to speak about the challenges the Church actually was facing, and of course communism was one!
    The Ostpolitik doesn’t explain all. There was an incomprehensible complacency for the Communism from both Popes and upon all from Paul VI. I recommend to read Fr Villa’s book “Paul VI beatified?”

  12. I am about a quarter of the way through this book. So far, it seems reasonable and well researched. I see no evidence of conspiracy paranoia yet.

  13. Fr. Erik: I put it on the wish list. It might be useful.

  14. Tom Ryan says:

    A Seminarian from St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Lincoln is discussing this sort of
    intrigue on The Right Perspective now. http://www.therightperspective.org

  15. moon1234 says:

    “AA-1025 – The Memoirs of an Anti-Apostle”

    I have read this book. It is excellent. It is almost a play by play of how and what happened to the church. It is a VERY interesting read and will stay with you for a LONG time. I read it over 10 years ago and many parts are still very vivid in my mind. You will definitly see how the soviets were able to twist church teaching to destroy it. There are MANY parallels in todays modern world. The book can really open your eyes. You will begin to see similar things still happening today.

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