Letter from Cardinal Seper, Prefect of the congregation For the Sacred Doctrine of the Faith, to Archbishop Philip M. Hannan of New Orleans, Louisiana.
April 21, 1970
"This office has received you letter of April 1970 in which you expressed justifiable apprehension about the diffusion of the Garabandal movement in your Archdiocese and in which you asked for clear and reliable guidelines from the Holy See for dealing with this phenomenon.
"The Holy See share your perception about the manifest and increasing confusion due to the diffusion of this movement among the faithful and desires with this letter to clarify its position on the matter.
"This Sacred Congregation despite requests form various Bishops and faithful has always refused to define the supernatural character of the events of Garabandal. After the definitive negative judgment issued by the Curia of Santander this Sacred Congregation, after attentive examination of the proceedings forwarded to this office has often praised the prudence that characterized the method followed in the examination but has still decided to leave direct responsibility for the matter to the local Ordinary.
"The Holy see has always held that the conclusions and dispositions of the Bishop of Santander were sufficiently secure guidelines for the Christian people and indications for the Bishops to order to dissuade people from participating in pilgrimages and other acts of devotion that are based on claims connected with or founded on the presumed apparitions and messages of Garabandal. On March 10, 1996, this Sacred Congregation wrote a letter to this effect to the Bishop of Santander who had also asked for a more explicit declaration of the Holy See to the matter.
"However promoters of the Garabandal movement have tried to minimize the decisions and the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Santander. THIS SACRED CONGREGATION WANTS IT TO BE CLEARLY UNDERSTOOD THAT THE BISHOP OF SANTANDER HAS BEEN AND CONTINUES TO BE THE ONLY ONE WITH COMPLETE JURISDICTION IN THIS MATTER AND THE HOLY SEE HAS NO INTENTION OF EXAMINING THIS QUESTION ANY FURTHER, since it holds that the examinations already carried out are sufficient as well as are the official declarations of the Bishop of Santander. There is no truth to the statement that the Holy See has named an Official Papal Private Investigator of Garabandal and affirmations attributed to the anonymous personage to the extent that the verification of the Garabandal apparitions lies completely in the hands of the Holy Father Pope Paul VI and other such expressions that aim at undermining the authority of the decisions of the Bishop of Santander are completely unfounded.
"In order to reply to certain doubts that you expressed in your letter this Sacred Congregation wishes to assert: that the Holy See has never approved even indirectly the Garabandal movement, that it has never encouraged or blessed Garabandal promoters or centers. Rather the Holy See deplores that fact that certain persons and Institutions persist in formatting the movement in obvious contradiction with the dispositions of ecclesiastical authority and thus disseminate confusion among the people especially among the simple and defenseless.
"From what has been said so far you will easily realize that though this Sacred Congregation certainly agrees with the contents of the note of May 10, 1969 (as published in various countries and especially in the French magazine LA DOCUMENTATION CATHOLIQUE September 21, 1966, n:1547 p. 821) It must say that it is inexact to attribute the part of the text that deals with the lack of supernatural character of the events of Garabandal of the Sacred Congregation which has always striven to abstain from any direct declaration on the question precisely because it did not consider it necessary to do so after the clear and express decisions of the Bishop of Santander. This is the genuine meaning of the letter written on January 21, 1970 by the Most Reverend Paul Phillippe, Secretary of this Sacred Congregation to the editor in chief of LA DOCUMENTATION CATHOLIQUE
"In order to contribute further to your pastoral action in this matter, this office is enclosing other essential documents already published in other countries such as Spain: The two official notices of the Bishop of Santander, two letters of the Sacred Congregation to the same Bishop and a letter to the Apostolic Delegate to Mexico. This office hopes in this letter to have clarified a question that concerns not just your Archdiocese but also other dioceses.
"With sentiments of deepest esteem and cordial respect I am devotedly yours,
Francis Cardinal Seper Prefect
Paul Philippe , Secretary"
Statement by Bishop Msgr. Jose Vilaplaua of Santander on alleged apparitions at Garabandal
Diocese of Santander
Santander, 11 October 1996
Some people have been coming directly to the Diocese of Santander (Spain) asking about the "alleged apparitions" of Garabandal, and above all for the position of the hierarchy of the Church concerning these apparitions.
I must communicate that:
1. All the bishops of the diocese from 1961 through 1970 asserted that the supernatural character of the said apparitions, that took place around that time, could not be confirmed. [no constaba].*
2. In the month of December of 1977 Msgr. del Val, Bishop of Santander, in union with his predecessors, affirmed that in the six years of being Bishop of Santander there were no new phenomena.
3. Not withstanding, the same Msgr. del Val, the first years having passed in which there was confusion to enthusiasm, initiated an interdisciplinary study in order to examine with greater profundity these phenomenon. The conclusion of this study coincided with the previous findings by the bishops, which is to say, that it does not prove [no consta] the supernaturality of said apparitions.
4. This study concluded during the days in which I took possession of the diocese in 1991. Taking advantage, in that same year, of a trip to Rome for the motive of making the ad limina visit, I presented said study to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and asked for guidance for pastoral activity concerning the case.
5. On Nov. 28, 1992, the Congregation sent me its response, consisting in, that after having examined attentively the mentioned documentation, it did not consider it opportune to intervene directly, removing the ordinary jurisdiction of the Bishop of Santander, this subject that belongs to him by right. Previous declarations of the Holy See agree in this finding.
In the same letter it was suggested, if I find it opportune, to publish a declaration in which it is re-affirmed that the supernaturality of the referenced apparitions was not proven, making my own the unanimous position of my predecessors.
6. Given that the declarations of my predecessors, who studied the case, have been clear and unanimous, I do not find it necessary to have a new public declaration that would give notoriety to something which happened so long ago. However, I find it opportune to redact this information as a direct response to the persons who ask for direction concerning this question, which I give finally, accepting the decisions of my predecessors and the direction of the Holy See.
7. In reference to the celebration of the Eucharist in Garabandal, following the dispositions of my predecessors, I only allow that it be celebrated in the parish church without reference to the alleged apparitions and with the permission of the current pastor, who has my confidence.
With the wish that this information is helpful to you, receive my cordial greeting in Christ,
* EWTN: It should be noted that this appears to correspond to the third of the categories used by the Church since new norms were promulgated in 1978 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:
1) constat de supernaturalitate (it is established supernatural)
2) constat de non supernaturalitate (it is established not supernatural)
3) non constat de supernaturalitate (it is not established supernatural)
Provided courtesy of EWTN:
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