Priests’ talk show that sparked controversy over Pope Francis remarks now back on YouTube

Sacristy of the Vendée show One of the priests on “The Sacristy of the Vendée”show sparked a firestorm after quipping in February that he prayed that Pope Francis would “go to heaven as soon as possible.” | Credit: LSDLV

“The Sacristy of the Vendée” is now back on YouTube.

Nearly two months ago, the priests featured on the Spanish-language talk show voluntarily suspended the program in the wake of a firestorm that was sparked when one of them quipped on their Feb. 22 show that he prayed that Pope Francis would “go to heaven as soon as possible.”

The YouTube program has had more than 70,000 followers and takes its name from the region in western France that resisted the subordination of the clergy to the government during that country’s bloody 1789–1799 revolution. 

The Archdiocese of Toledo in Spain, to which three of the six priests normally on the show belong, demanded in a Feb. 28 statement that they all apologize for the comments made “that harm the communion of the Church and scandalize the people of God.” 

In a Feb. 28 post on X “The Sacristy of the Vendée” apologized, stating that “it was a comment in bad taste and although it does not express a wish for the pope to die, as some media have maliciously portrayed, we understand that it can be understood that way.”

In addition, the priests expressed their “adherence to Pope Francis, in the same terms in which it was clearly expressed in the program of last Feb. 22. We reject attacks against the pope and the unity of the Church and those who deny the legitimacy of the pope’s ministry.”

In a March 6 special edition, the program announced it was being suspended “until further notice,” given the controversy that had broken out: “After much reflection and of our own volition, wanting to avoid putting our bishops in the position of having to make a difficult decision that would grant victory to our enemies, we have decided to make a strategic retreat.”

Now, as of April 20, “The Sacristy of the Vendée” is back on YouTube. At the beginning of the program, host Father Francisco José Delgado noted that it’s a medium that doesn’t take precedence over his pastoral duties and that if it served “to harm the Church,” then it was time to “let it go.”

Father Francisco Torres, another regular on the show, said with an allusion to the battlefield that “we return here to this trench of Christ the King to the joy of many and the disappointment of our dear enemies for whom we pray as Our Lord Jesus Christ commanded us.”

Father Ricardo Gómez of the Archdiocese of Madrid joined the show as a newcomer and Delgado thanked him for his presence because “the truth is that it’s not easy for someone to dare to join us today.”

Not present, however, was Father Gabriel Calvo, who made the following controversial remark on the Feb. 15 show: “I also pray a lot for the pope, so that he can go to heaven as soon as possible.”

The topic of the show was the Valley of the Fallen, a monumental complex located about 30 miles northwest of Madrid that was dedicated in 1959 in memory of both sides killed in the 1936–1939 Spanish Civil War. 

The purpose of the complex was to foster national reconciliation after the war that bitterly divided the country. Overlooking the complex rises the largest cross in the world. The current socialist government wants to secularize the memorial site, which includes a basilica and abbey, and reconfigure the area’s historical significance.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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