The Spanish government is making a formal complaint to the Vatican over what they term “interference in state affairs” regarding the exhumation of Francisco Franco’s remains.
Franco was buried in the basilica of the Valley of the Fallen, built during the dictatorship to honour the dead in Spain’s bloody civil war. In 2018 the Spanish socialist Government began the process of exhuming his body.
In a recent interview, nuncio Renzo Fratini accused the state of having managed the exact opposite of what they intended, in effect “resurrecting Franco”. The nuncio was referring to the fact that the move had opened old wounds in a still divided country.
“Honestly, there are so many problems in the world and in Spain, why resurrect him? I tell you they’ve resurrected Franco. It would have been better to leave him in peace. Most people, most politicians, believe that 40 years after his death what’s done is done, God will judge. There is nothing to gain in bringing up something that caused a civil war”, he said in an interview with Europa Press.
The comments did not sit well with the ruling Socialist party and the current vice-president of the Government, Carmen Calvo, has said a formal complaint will be filed with the Vatican.
“He has to respect the rules of diplomatic behaviour. The Spanish state will be replying harshly. I hope the Vatican manages to restore order. He should air no opinions other than the instructions of his state”, she said.
The Spanish Church has tried to keep out of the argument about the exhumation of Franco, which has been suspended by the Supreme Court, pending a final decision by the judges. The Government’s intention is to move the remains to the Franco family crypt in the El Pardo cemetery in Madrid, which although public is more low-profile than the grandiose Valley of the Fallen.
“After 40 years of democracy, the dictator cannot remain in a public place, where he can be honoured”, said Calvo in her interview with Spanish broadcaster Cadena Ser.
Calvo also said that she has had a number of “difficult conversations” with Fratini, indicating that the relationship between the diplomat and the state is tense. The nuncio, however, who is already 75, is set to leave his post on July 2.
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