Declaration made today, October 30, by Holy See Press Office Director Greg Burke:

“Regarding the meeting held yesterday by the Secretary of State of the Holy See and the Vice President of the Government of Spain, I would like to state the following: Cardinal Pietro Parolin does not oppose the exhumation of Francisco Franco, if the competent authorities have so decided, but at no time did he say anything about the place of burial. It is true that Mrs. Carmen Calvo expressed her concern about the possible burial in the cathedral of Almudena and her desire to explore other alternatives, also through dialogue with the family. The Cardinal Secretary of State thought this solution was appropriate. ”

(JFL: Francisco Franco was a Spanish general who ruled over Spain as a military dictator from 1939, after the nationalist victory in the Spanish Civil War, until his death in 1975. This period in Spanish history is commonly known as Francoist Spain.

By the 1950s, the nature of his regime changed from being openly totalitarian and using severe repression to an authoritarian system with limited pluralism.[18] During the Cold War, Franco was one of the world’s foremost anti-Communist figures: his regime was assisted by the West, and it was asked to join NATO. After chronic economic depression in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Franco presided over the Spanish miracle, abandoning autarky and pursuing economic liberalization, delegating authority to liberal ministers.[19]

Franco died in 1975 at the age of 82. He restored the monarchy before his death, which made King Juan Carlos I his successor, who led the Spanish transition to democracy. After a referendum, a new constitution was adopted, which transformed Spain into a parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy. H was buried in the Valle de los Caidos (Valley of the Fallen), a colossal memorial built by the forced labour of political prisoners in order to honour the casualties of the Spanish Civil War

On 24 August 2018, the government of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez approved legal amendments to the Historical Memory Law stating that only those who died during the civil war will be buried at the Valle de los Caídos, resulting in plans to exhume Franco’s remains for reburial elsewhere. Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo Poyato stated that having Franco buried at the monument “shows a lack of respect … for the victims buried there”. The government gave Franco’s family a 15-day deadline to decide Franco’s final resting place, or else a “dignified place” will be chosen by the government.[104] The family finally agreed.[105] On 13 September 2018, the Congress of Deputies voted 176-2, with 165 abstentions, to remove Franco’s body from the monument. (wikipedia)


It’s the first day of spring and most of us are happy – although New Yorkers and others on the East Coast might be less so because of snowfall! Flowering trees are sprouting their beautiful pink and white buds here and winter coats are generally giving way to spring jackets (except for early morning and late night). The crowds in Rome for Holy Week are immense and, as a result, everything takes longer – longer lines to get in churches, museums, etc., longer waits in coffee bars and restaurants, more time in traffic as hundreds of tourists busses crowd the major thoroughfares. But that’s all OK. It is that time of year: We know it and await it and now it is here. As the Italians say, pazienza – patience!

And I am using the first day of spring to toot a horn, my own – as you will read!

Stay tuned for another post – breaking news about a friend of mine!


(Vatican Radio) So, you’ve packed your bags and you’ve booked your flight and hotel: you are coming to Rome on pilgrimage for the Jubilee Year of Mercy!  If you haven’t done so yet, you might want to consider bringing along a companion who knows Rome and the Vatican like the back of her hand: Joan Lewis.

A 3 decade-long Rome resident and veteran Vatican watcher, she’s the Joan in ‘Joan Knows,’ Vatican Radio’s weekly program looking at the Pope’s activities and Vatican events.  Joan is also the Rome bureau chief for  EWTN, the prominent, U.S.-based Catholic Radio and Television.

Her new book, “A Holy Year in Rome: the Complete Pilgrim’s Guide for the Jubilee of Mercy” (Sophia Institute Press) promises a lot, and it delivers.

Click here for the rest of the story!



FRANCIS EXPRESSES SADNESS AT STUDENT DEATHS IN SPAIN.  Pope Francis has expressed his sadness for the tragic deaths of 13 international university students in a bus accident in northeastern Spain this past weekend and has assured the families of his “heartfelt” prayers. All of the victims were young women students on the Erasmus university exchange program.  They included seven from Italy, two Germans, an Austrian, a French woman, a Romanian and an Uzbekistani and ranged between 19 and 25 years old. The bus carrying 57 university students crashed Sunday near Freginals, halfway between the eastern coastal cities of Barcelona and Valencia. They were returning from a firework festival in Valencia. In a telegram to Bishop Benavent Enrique Vidal of Tortosa on behalf of the Holy Father, Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said the Pope hopes that the injured will recover swiftly. Pope Francis, the message reads, wishes to express his closeness to the families who have suffered “irreparable loss” and invokes the Lord’s blessing for their spiritual serenity and Christian hope in this time of grief. (photo


PAPAL TELEGRAM FOR VICTIMS OF ATTACK IN ISTANBUL. Pope Francis has expressed his “prayerful solidarity” with victims of Saturday’s bomb attack in Istanbul. In a telegram addressed to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said Pope Francis “[grieved] to learn of the casualties caused by the bombing in Istanbul yesterday morning, and he expresses his prayerful solidarity with all touched by this tragedy.  His Holiness asks you to convey his spiritual closeness to them, as well as to the personnel assisting the injured.  Commending the souls of those who have died to the mercy of the Almighty, Pope Francis invokes divine strength and peace upon those who mourn, and upon the entire nation.”