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Franco’s Exhumation: The Statements of the Former Nuncio Were Made in a Personal Capacity

Alessandro Gisotti Explains the Holy See’s Position

On June 18, 2019, Alessandro Gisotti, Director ad interim of the Holy See Press Office, said that the statements of Monsignor Renzo Fratini, former Nuncio in Spain, accusing the Government of wanting to exhume the remains of Francisco Franco (1892-1975) for political reasons, were made in a “personal capacity.”

“On the occasion of Monsignor Renzo Fratini’s definitive departure from Spain, on the conclusion of his mandate, we stress that his recent statements on the issue of the exhumation of Francisco Franco’s mortal remains were expressed in a personal capacity. We also remind that the former Apostolic Nuncio in Spain has already denied, by way of the press, his intention to pronounce himself on questions of interior politics,” said Gisotti, in response to journalists’ questions.

“We reiterate once again that the Holy See’s position on the issue of Franco’s exhumation is clear and has already been officially expressed in a letter that the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, addressed last February to the vice-President of the Spanish Government, Carmen Calvo . . . This position is based on the full respect of the sovereignty of the Spanish State and of its juridical system,” continued Gisotti.

In October 2018 the Holy See Press Office announced — after the meeting between the Vatican Secretary of State and the Vice-President of the Spanish Government that “Cardinal Pietro Parolin is not opposed to Francisco Franco’s exhumation, if the competent authorities have so decided, but at no moment did he pronounce himself on the place of the interment.

In November 1975, Franco was buried in the Holy Cross Basilica of the Valley of the Fallen, a monument of the Franco era, erected in 1942 to the memory of the national combatants who died during the Civil War in Spain (1936-1939). It is located 50 kilometers from the Spanish capital.

On May 17, 2017, the Congress of Spanish Deputies adopted a resolution calling the government to exhume Franco’s remains from the Basilica and move them to a more discreet place.

In August 2018, the Spanish Socialist Government approved a decree opening the way to the exhumation of Francisco Franco’s remains. According to the Spanish Executive, El Pardo cemetery, in a suburb of Madrid, where Franco’s wife is buried, guarantees the conditions of dignity and respect.

On June 4, 2019, the Spanish Supreme Court decided to suspend the exhumation of Franco’s remains while waiting for the evaluation of the family’s appeal, expressing the wish to bury the General’s remains in a space belonging to them in the crypt of the Cathedral of Almudena in Madrid.

About Marina Droujinina

Journalist (Moscow & Brussels). Theology (Brussels, IET).

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