Spain's deputy PM to visit Vatican in possible bid to secure help over Franco's reburial
Francisco Franco Spainâs deputy PM to visit Vatican in possible bid to secure help over Francoâs reburial
Plans to rebury dictator out of state tomb has provoked opposition from his family
Spainâs deputy prime minister will travel to the Vatican on Monday amid speculation that the government could use the visit to try to enlist the Roman Catholic churchâs help as it seeks to exhume and reinter the remains of Gen Francisco Franco.
The socialist government of the prime minister, Pedro SÃ¡nchez, has committed itself to removing Francoâs body from the Valley of the Fallen, the huge mausoleum outside Madrid where the dictator has lain since his death in 1975.
The Valley of the Fallen, which was partly built by captured republicans and political prisoners, is a mass grave containing the remains of more than 30,000 people who fought on both sides of the war.
While ostensibly a monument to all those killed in the conflict, only two graves are marked: Francoâs and that of JosÃ© Antonio Primo de Rivera, the founder of the Falangist party.The Guardian view on Francoâs exhumation: lifting a stone from a brutal past | Editorial Read more
SÃ¡nchez said the move was intended to close wounds âthat have been open for many yearsâ, but the dictatorâs family has bitterly opposed the exhumation.
Although the government can have Francoâs remains moved, their place of reburial remains a matter for the dictatorâs family. The most likely reinterment site is Madridâs Almudena Cathedral, where the Franco family owns a crypt.
The cathedral, however, sits in the centre of the capital, close to the royal palace, meaning that a reburial there would make Francoâs grave more accessible and could turn the cathedral into a pilgrimage site for the far right.
The deputy prime minister, Carmen Calvo, was asked earlier this week whether she would ask the church to step in when she meets the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin. She said there were âmany issues to discussâ.
Calvo added: âEven though [Franco] was a dictator, they are human remains and only his family can take charge of them or decide where they should go.âFranco's family vows to stop Spanish dictator's exhumation Read more < p>She said the government had undertaken to exhume Franco to comply with both Spainâs historical memory law and with UN reports âso that Franco is not in a state tomb in a public place where he is glorified as a dictatorâ.
Thousands of people gathered outside the Almudena Cathedral on Thursday to protest against Francoâs possible burial there.
The Francisco Franco National Foundation, which seeks to promote the dictatorâs legacy, has warned that the governmentâs initiative could backfire.
âIf, God forbid, Francoâs remains end up in the Madrid cathedral, the pilgrimage to see him is going to be tremendous,â the foundationâs president, Juan Chicharro, told the Associated Press.
âYou can only reach the Valley of the Fallen by car on a motorway and with traffic jams, but you can easily get to the cathedral on the metro.â
One alternative would be to persuade the Franco family to bury the dictator in the El Pardo cemetery on the outskirts of Madrid, where his wife lies.
Vatican experts say the church is unlikely to make any official intervention as the issue is one for Spanish bishops.
âThis is a matter for the local hierarchy â" Spaniards are divided on this but, from what Iâve seen, the local Catholic hierarchy has been pretty clear that they donât want anything to honour Franco,â said Robert Mickens, the Rome-based editor of the English-language edition of Catholic daily newspaper La Croix.
â [With] Parolin being one of the most savvy diplomats within the Holy See, I think heâll be very careful with how he will comment or not comment.â
Andrea Tornielli, a Vatican expert at La Stampa and the coordinator of the newspaperâs Vatican Insider website, said Franco had the same right to a tomb as anyone.
âIt is clear that as long as there is an open legal process, that is, the Franco familyâs rejection of the government and all its institutions, the problem is that nothing will be done, in the sense that it will take months before this problem is resolved legally,â he said.
âHowever, the Vatican has nothing to do with it.âTopics
- Francisco Franco
- Share on Facebook
- Share on Twitter
- Share via Email
- Share on LinkedIn
- Share on Pinterest
- Share o n Google+
- Share on WhatsApp
- Share on Messenger
- Reuse this content