A few days after Paul VI was proclaimed a saint, the Spanish historian and priest Vicente Cárcel Ortí tells EFE that during the canonization process he was asked for a special report to explain the relationship of the pope with the dictator Francisco Franco.
Prison Ortí, one of the maximum experts on Pablo I SAW and the History of the Church during the Francoism, that resides in Rome for years, explains in an interview that the study "became necessary to clarify some things that appeared confused in the relations with Spain because he mixed what he had done as a cardinal and what he did later as pope. "
The rapporteur (a kind of investigating judge) of the cause of Paul VI, Guido Mazzotta, in a meeting with journalists a few days after the canonization of Pope Giovanni Battista Montini, which will be next Sunday, revealed that this study had to be requested to include it in the documentation of the process.
Montini, when he was Archbishop of Milan, sent a telegram to Franco asking for a pardon for the communist leader Julian Grimau, who was finally not heard and ended up shot. Two months later, on June 21, he was elected pope.
"Therefore, after his election, in the Spanish press, akin to the regime, they took out the famous telegram and mounted a smear campaign on Paul VI and began a very confused time that in the Congregation for the Cause of Saints wanted to clarify and they commissioned me a study ", reveals Cárcel Ortí.
The 78-year-old Spanish historian explains that he elaborated an extensive study to clarify three main points for the canonization process.
"It was a very large study where it was shown that Paul VI always condemned terrorism wherever it came from, but at the same time he demonstrated against the death penalty and always asked for clemency, pardons and pardons for the condemned," he summarizes.
The priest emphasizes that Pope Montini never had a problem highlighting in his speeches "that the Spanish government ignored him in these petitions, and the most resounding was the request for clemency for the eleven convictions (of members of ETA and FRAP) in 1975, two months before Franco's death. "
Cárcel Ortí was in Rome with Cardinal Vicente Enrique and Tarancón when he was informed that the pope would telephone Franco that night to ask for the pardon of all, "but that call never happened."
Paul VI in his general audience the following day revealed that three times they had asked for mercy and also during the night, "so that it was opted instead for the way of the deadly repression, that of magnanimity and that of mercy", and the famous one added: "Unfortunately we have not been heard."
Count Cárcel Ortí that Tarancón in his memoirs always said that Franco did not know anything about this call because they did not pass it on and that if he had spoken with the pope "they would have pardoned him".
For this historian, Paul VI the regime's press painted him as "the enemy of Spain", but the Pope "really loved Spain and demonstrated it by proclaiming Santa Teresa de Ávila doctor of the Church."
"He was very critical of the regime," he adds, because he came from a family of anti-fascists who had fought with the resistance, but "showed a lot of affection and affection and had many expressions of love" for Spain.
The Valencian historian also has the concern of Paul VI to facilitate the transition in the country and since he was elected "began to prepare slowly changing the bishops for younger and another generation and giving instructions to prepare the environment of the society and the Church. "
"He was a democrat, he had democracy in his blood and he was against any kind of totalitarianism, he wanted a peaceful transition in Spain and the only thing he could do was intervene with the bishops," he explains.
The priest also says that Paul VI repeatedly asked to repeal the power that Spain had to participate in the election of bishops, but Franco always refused.
Before the canonization of Sunday, the historian affirms that Paul VI has been "the great pontiff of the twentieth century" and reveals that during a meeting with Francisco he gave him his book on Montini and that the Argentinian grabbed him with love and said: "Paul VI He is my great dad. "