Spain is to lodge a formal complaint with the Vatican after the Holy See’s representative in the country, Renzo Fratini, accused the Government of “resurrecting” the dictator Francisco Franco with its plan to exhume the despot’s body and move it off State-owned property.
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Nuncio Fratini, whose age-related resignation became effective Tuesday, railed against the Government in an interview with the Europa Press news agency, blasting its plan to move the body of Franco from the place it has lain since his death in 1975: the Valley of the Fallen, the monument to the victims of the 1936-39 Civil War.
“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”.
Spanish deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo immediately hit back at Fratini, calling his “interfering in State affairs” completely “unacceptable” and adding that she was not surprised by the prelate’s comments. “I have had a number of difficult conversations with him”, Calvo admitted.
“He has to respect the rules of diplomatic behaviour”, Calvo said of Fratini. “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”.
“After 40 years of democracy, the dictator [Franco] cannot remain in a public place, where he can be honoured”, continued Calvo, promising that the Government would press ahead with its plan to bury Franco in the family crypt in El Pardo, Madrid.
For the moment, however, the Government’s plan has been suspended by Spain’s Supreme Court, whose judges will decide on the family’s petition to have Franco buried in Madrid’s La Almudena Cathedral.