The Prior of the “Valle de los Caidos” Warns the Spanish Government

January 09, 2023

The prior of the “Valley of the Fallen,” Santiago Cantera, has called for “leaving the dead in peace” and indicated that it would not be easy to expel the Benedictine monks, who are in the valley now called Valley of Cuelgamuros, because of an agreement that the State “cannot break unilaterally.” There is a push to exhume many of the bodies buried at the Valley, which some see as victims of the Spanish civil war.

“In the Law of Memory there is an article on the Valley. In principle, a royal decree must be issued to regulate the new legal order of the Valley. They will have to see how they can circumvent our reality, because we are here because of a bipartisan agreement, which cannot be broken unilaterally,” Cantera explained in an interview with Mundo Cristiano magazine.

This agreement was signed between the Holy Cross Foundation of the Valley of the Fallen and the Abbey of Silos, to which the Abbey of the Holy Cross of the Valley of the Fallen was attached from its birth. “In other words, a new deal should be made with us,” he continued.

“Even if it is assumed by the Patrimonio del Estado and no longer by the Patrimonio Nacional, the agreement must be assumed by them. There is no other solution than to negotiate a new agreement,” the prior stressed.

He further underlined that, since the abbey is of pontifical right (it was created in 1958 by a decree of Pope Pius XII), the State could not break the agreement unilaterally, but that “the written and signed approval of the Holy See would be necessary.”

Finally, he adds that they have “a series of rights” and that the realization of these rights “will be inherited by the institution that succeeds the Holy Cross Foundation. This means that legally it is not easy to expel us. And that would be disastrous. Such an image internationally would sink a government.”

Asked whether he considered that, in recent years, there have been attacks on religious freedom and freedom of worship, he recalled that on the occasion of the exhumation of Franco's remains, the basilica was closed for worship for three weeks.

He also denounced the fact “that it was occupied without the authorization of the ecclesiastical authority by armed agents of the Guardia Civil, in an inviolable space according to the Church-State agreements,” the reason for which he considers that there was “a serious violation of the right to religious freedom.”

For all these reasons, the prior asks that “the dead be left in peace.” What we must do is let their remains rest in peace and try to build peace among the living. But also that the religious meaning of the Valley of the Fallen, of which the Benedictine community is the guarantor, is fundamentally respected.

This religious meaning of the Valley of the Fallen is “to seek reconciliation” and, in this sense, he adds that the Benedictine monks pray every day “for the fallen on one side and the other; on the national side and on the republican side.”