Carmen Calvo, deputy PM, with Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
Confusion after minister's  Vatican meeting over moving Franco's body

Confusion after minister's Vatican meeting over moving Franco's body

A papal press statement has hurriedly had to clarify that no agreement has been reached with Madrid about the dictator's remains


Friday, 2 November 2018, 12:37

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The deputy prime minister's meeting with the Pope's second in command turned into an embarrassing diplomatic faux pas for Madrid this week after the Vatican was forced to issue a press statement correcting what the minister said had been discussed.

Carmen Calvo was at the Vatican on Monday to talk about several issues, including taxation of Church property in Spain. But near the top of the list was a discussion on where the Church stood on the planned exhumation of the remains of dictator General Franco from his ceremonial resting place at the Valley of the Fallen Civil War monument.

If the removal goes ahead, Franco's grandchildren have said they want a burial in the public crypt of Madrid's Almudena Cathedral, where there is a family tomb.

Faced with the likelihood that this could turn Franco's grave into even more of a tourist attraction and place of right-wing pilgrimage than now, the government has been searching for a way out of granting the Franco family what is apparently their legal right.

After the Vatican meeting with Pietro Parolin, Carmen Calvo said that they had jointly agreed a way out that wouldn't involve the cathedral crypt.

But a rare rebuke from the Vatican in a statement said that the pair had only discussed that the government's engagement with the Franco family was a sound approach.

The Catholic Church in Spain has previously also expressed its wish to keep out of the controversy.

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