In the 1960s, Italian writer Carlo Falconi wrote The Silence of Pius XII, a book entirely based on documents provided to him by the communist government of Croatia – including those used to frame Archbishop Stepinac. In fact, the title of each and every chapter in Falconi’s book is related to Croatia.

In his foreword, Falconi explained that the “central core of the Croatian documents” that had been provided to him by the Croatian (communist) government “brought to light an entirely new and unsuspected harvest of relations on the men and the mysterious world” of high Vatican officials. Falconi’s book impressed researchers because it was highly footnoted and relied on documents that had been used in litigation. The Silence of Pius XII shaped much of the early scholarship “documenting” that Pius XII was “Hitler’s Pope”.

We now know that Falconi was not looking at legitimate documents, but at communist fabrications. In 1985, Jakov Blazevic, who prosecuted Stepinac, confessed that the documents on which the archbishop was tried were false. In 1992, one of the first acts of Parliament in the newly independent Croatia was to issue a declaration condemning the framing and “the political trial and sentence passed on Cardinal Stepinac in 1946.”

Though modern writers should know better, The Silence of Pius XII, based on false documents created by Croatian communist government, remains much cited to this day. John Cornwell’s Hitler’s Pope, published in 1999, made much use of it. In fact, Cornwell praise Falconi’s “painstaking” research.

Falconi and the works built upon his book have tainted the entire investigation into Pope Pius XII. As Croatian scholar Jure Kristo has explained: “The documents which both men [Falconi and Cornwell] used had, of course, been assembled by the Yugoslav secret police, then led by the Serbian Communist [head of the UDBA] Aleksandar Rankovic, and fed to Falconi in order to compromise Pope Pius XII as “Hitler’s Pope”.

Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa and Professor Ronald Rychlak, Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism (2013)

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