According to the Spanish newspaper El Pais, the Socialist government’s plans to transfer the remains of Francisco Franco have been delayed for several months now by the opposition from the prior, Fr. Santiago Cantera Montenegro.
He is the legal manager of the basilica where the Caudillo is buried, and has refused to approve the exhumation, forcing the political power to put its project on hold, at least for the time being.
According to cath.ch, the community of 23 Benedictine monks at the Abbey of the Holy Cross of the Valley of the Fallen (“Abadía de la Santa Cruz del Valle de los Caídos”) is “deeply divided”. The online media outlet eldiario.es says the cardinal of Madrid, Carlos Osoro, and the French Abbot of Solesmes, Philippe Dupont, who is Fr. Cantera’s superior, have sent “instructions” to the prior. They wish “to avoid allowing the transfer of Franco’s remains to become a problem that will sow discord in Church-State relations that are already difficult enough.”
Just like the Spanish clergy, the Holy See has announced that it will not oppose this transfer: “Regarding the translation of Franco’s remains, I have nothing more to add to what the Holy See has already stated,” declared the temporary director of the Holy See Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti. The Vatican “will not oppose the exhumation of Francisco Franco if the competent authorities have decided upon it,” declared Greg Burke, his predecessor, on October 30. With regards to his new burial place, the Vatican has called for “dialogue with his family”.
A “dialogue” that will be complicated, to say the least, since General Franco’s descendants, his seven grandchildren, have taken legal action to oppose his exhumation. And they have suggested transferring the remains of the former Head of State to their family vault, which is located in the cathedral of the Almudena, in the very heart of Madrid…The government wants nothing to do with this idea, for it would make his remains even easier to access than they already are!
According to the political specialist Pablo Simón, professor at the Carlos III University in Madrid, the head of the government
...has, in spite of himself, transformed the issue of Franco’s remains into a great tragicomic spectacle. It is absurd, but it shows how ill at ease the country is with its past, and how open some of the wounds from the civil war still are.
If there is any need for proof, ever since the exhumation was announced, the visits to Franco’s tomb have increased. La Valle de los Caídos received over 300,000 visits between January and October 2018, which is more than twice the number of visits paid the year before.