May 11, 2021

The only abbot who can press the Prior of the Valley also supports him in his crusade against the exhumation of Franco

The only abbot who can press the Prior of the Valley also supports him in his crusade against the exhumation of Franco

The prior of the Valley of the Fallen, Santiago Cantera, has also the support of his superior, the abbot of the Benedictine monastery of Solesmes (west of Paris), and the only authority – along with the Vatican – that can twist his arm in his decision not to let the Government enter the basilica where Francisco Franco is buried. The problem, expected by the Executive but not for that a minor problem, is that at the moment none of the superiors of the prior is going to do anything and Cantera is the competent authority to decide that the door of the basilica be opened or not to the technicians, since by the Church-State Agreements the temples are inviolable. Ecclesiastical sources suggest that the Church is waiting for the Supreme Court to decide. If, while studying the resource of the family, does not paralyze the exhumation, the basilica will be opened. But the idea is not to comply with the government's decision without being validated by an external body, in this case the high court.

When in June of last year Pedro Sánchez announced that the dictator would be exhumed of the Valley of the Fallen, a public place fully funded with public money, the prior received a notarized document of the seven grandchildren of Franco in which they showed their opposition to the exhumation of his grandfather. That document is the breastplate that the prior is using to appease the wishes of the Government and Congress to get the embalmed body out of there. In an allegation sent to the Minister of Justice, he has made it clear that he will not let them pass. At least, until the Supreme Court decides, "given the conflicting nature of the decision," as he told Dolores Delgado.

The Vatican, the ultimate authority, has already said that at the moment it is not going to interfere and his spokesman has indicated in a note that "the matter concerns his family, the Spanish Government and the local Church", ignoring that one of his own is the one who prevents the passage and also awaiting political and judicial events. has asked the immediate superior of Cantera, the abbot Philippe Dupon, who, through his assistant and by mail, has also thrown himself aside: "The father he will always share the decision made by the Holy See, at this point, as in all points. "And he continues to endorse the prior's performance, whom he removes from the equation:" It seems that the question of the funeral of Francisco Franco does not concern so much to the monastery of Valley as to his family. The problem lies, therefore, between the Spanish government and the family of General Franco. "That is to say, neither the Benedictine order nor the Holy See are planning to intervene because they consider that it is not theirs.The French abbot has not answered the questions if he agrees with the prior's decision or if the Government of Sanchez has contacted him.

At first, Cardinal Osoro -man of Pope Francis who is the leader of the Archbishopric but not the hierarchical of the Pior- tried to convince Cantera to pave the way and showed the Government that the Church would not be (this time) on the part of Franco but of the fulfillment of the decree law approved in the Council of Ministers and validated by the Congress of Deputies. But Santiago Cantera refused to comply, visited his superior the abbot of the French monastery of Solesmes and returned to Spain with the same decision, not to let enter the basilica claiming that the family did not want the exhumation and asserting before the State its ecclesiastical authority .

It can do so because it is allowed by the post-Franco Church-State Agreements validated in 1979 and that have the status of an international agreement. "The places of worship are guaranteed inviolability," says Article 1, making it clear that the Government could not enter the basilica of the Valley of the Fallen, where Franco lies, if the prior is opposed.

In addition there is another shield. The report of experts appointed by the Zapatero government left in writing in 2011 in his analysis that the bodies buried in the basilica (more than 33,000) are public competition, considering that they make up a state cemetery, except two bodies: the corpse of Franco and José Antonio Primo de Rivera, who they are the responsibility of the "abbot, the supreme authority in the Basilica", since they are in the church itself, in front of the main altar. In this concession that is made to the leader of the Benedictines over the bodies of the dictator and the Falangist can find a Santiago Cantera reinforcement, which still officiates Masses in honor of the Francoist side and that he was a candidate of Falange in the elections of 1993 and in the European elections of 1995.

This week will open the deadline for the latest allegations of the family, which the Government will resolve in ten days. From there, the Council of Ministers will say when and how the body of Franco will be exhumed and where the body will go, predictably to the cemetery of Mingorrubio (El Pardo), after a report discourages La Almudena for problems of public order. After that agreement of the ministers, the grandchildren will be able to request the paralysis of the process to the Supreme Court as a precautionary measure of the litigation they have filed against the Government's decision.

If the Supreme Court does not provisionally paralyze the exhumation, the Church could stop putting obstacles and the body could be removed, according to ecclesiastical sources, although the prior could always decide that he wants to wait for a final decision of the Supreme Court, which would eternalize the process and It could spoil if there is a change of government. If the court paralyzes the work as a precautionary measure until a decision is issued, the prior will assert its authority in the basilica, since it has the ability to prevent the dictator from leaving the church of the Valley of the Fallen and to ruin the decree law and the agreement of the Congress until a final judgment is issued by the Supreme Court.


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