Diplomatic tension over Vatican envoy’s Franco remarks

Archbishop Renzo Frattini, who has stepped down as Vatican envoy to Spain on retirement at age 75. Photo: EFE / El Diario
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► Outgoing envoy took parting shot at Sánchez gov’t over Franco reburial plans
► Spain to file formal protest, review tax status of church properties in response

Diplomatic relations between Vatican and the government of Spanish President Pedro Sánchez have tensed following public criticism by outgoing Vatican envoy to Spain Archbishop Renzo Frattini of the Sánchez government’s planned exhumation and reburial of the remains of former dictator Francisco Franco.

Spanish Vice-President Carmen Calvo immediately responded to remarks made by Frattini in a televised interview, telling Spanish news media that the archbishop had violated diplomatic protocol by criticizing Spanish domestic legislation designed to implement a 2017 all-party resolution in Congress calling for the removal of Franco’s remains from their controversial resting place.


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Frattini, a longtime Vatican diplomat who is leaving Spain after reaching the Vatican’s mandatory retirement age for diplomats of 75, took a parting shot at the Sánchez government, saying it was responsible for stirring up the controversy over the exhumation of Franco’s remains and their removal from the high-profile burial site at the Valley of the Fallen monument outside Madrid.

The government’s plan to remove Franco’s remains from the monument in June is currently stalled, pending review and a ruling by Spain’s Supreme Court.

“They have resurrected Franco, because after the announcement the visits (to the Valley of the Fallen) have increased, the problem has returned,” Frattini said, implying that the government should have left well enough alone.

Calvo said not only will Spain file a formal diplomatic protest over Frattini’s remarks, which the government considers interference in Spain’s internal affairs by a foreign government, but will also respond by launching a review of the tax status of Catholic church properties in Spain.

► Read More in Spanish at La Vanguardia, El País and El Diario …

► Click to read more news about Spain’s late-dictator Francisco Franco …

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