Hello Bishop Manchester. I would like to ask, what is your opinion of the events that took place at Garabandal. I believe the alleged events took place between 1961 & 1965. I am kind of on the fence on whether to believe it or not. Conchita Gonzalez, Maria Dolores Mazon, Jacinta Gonzalez and Maria Cruz Gonzalez do seem to be witnessing something special. But, some of their behavior does seem a little suspicious at times. For example, them running backward and falling back and levitating just inches off the ground. The Catholic church, to my knowledge, has never approved or disapproved of the events that allegedly took place at Garabandal. - Ruben
Garabandal is a small village in northern Spain, in the Santander province, near the Picos de Europa mountains, a rugged and beautiful setting. Its full name is San Sebastian of Garabandal. It is located six hundred metres above sea level, some fifty-seven miles from the capital of the province. To get there one must climb steep, poor roads. No more than three hundred people live in Garabandal. The town is impressively quiet. There is no doctor in the town and no resident priest at the parish church. The priest from Cosio, the next town down the road, used to celebrate Mass there on Sunday.
On the evening of 18 June 1961, four girls were playing on the outskirts of the town - Conchita Gonzalez, Maria Dolores (Mari-loli) Mazon, Jacinta Gonzalez and Maria Cruz Gonzalez (not related despite having the same name.) Maria Cruz was eleven, the others twelve, and all were from poor families. Suddenly they heard a loud noise, like thunder, and saw before them the bright figure of the Archangel Michael.
On the following days the Archangel appeared to them again in the same place. He announced that on July 2nd they would see Our Lady. This was the beginning of the Garabandal events.
News spread quickly. On July 2nd, many priests were among the numerous visitors who joined the villagers to witness the great event. At about 6.00pm, the children were headed for the spot where they had been seeing the angel when the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared with an angel on each side.
They recognised one of the angels as the one who had been appearing to them (later identified as St Michael the Archangel) and the other looked identical. Above the Virgin was a large eye that the children thought to be the eye of God. They spoke openly and familiarly with their Heavenly Mother and said the rosary in her presence. Over the next year-and-a-half she would appear many times.
To confirm the supernatural character of the events, St Michael told Conchita that on a certain date, the invisible Communion he had been giving her would become visible on her tongue. So, in the early morning hours of 19 July 1962, she left her house in ecstasy, turned a corner, and fell to her knees in an adjacent street. As the crowd pressed around her, she put out her tongue and those just inches away affirmed that it was bare and the mouth empty. Then, faster than the eye could see, a brilliant white Host appeared on her tongue.
Regarding the claim to private revelation at Garabandal, I find no moral or doctrinal errors in any of the messages or claims associated with Garabandal. False private revelations almost always have moral or doctrinal errors in their messages.
There are no clearly false statements about the future. There appear to be no errors of eschatological theology, not even subtle ones. The predictions of a Warning, a Miracle, and a Chastisement are in no way contrary to the teachings of the Church on the Mercy and Justice of God, nor are they contrary to the teachings of Sacred Scripture about the future. In fact, the ideas of a Warning, a Miracle, and a Chastisement agree with my understanding of what the Bible itself predicts for the future.
False private revelations almost always make erroneous claims about the future of the Church and the world. No such false claims are found in the messages of Garabandal.
There are none of the usual characteristics of false private revelation. The material is not sensational. It does not present distorted doctrine. It does not exalt the persons receiving the private revelation. In fact, the visionaries of Garabandal have remained humble and have lived very quiet lives. Furthermore, the messages and apparitions do not give excessive attention to evil or to sin. They do not contain long rambling uninformative diatribes, nor vague and confused predictions. There are no empty exhortations to holiness, nor are various unusual new titles given to the Virgin Mary. The vocabulary and language are simple and humble, not sensational and worldly.
As often happens, even with true claims of private revelation, some persons have drawn incorrect conclusions about the meaning of the messages at Garabandal.
It is not true that the Miracle will happen within twelve months of the Warning. This false conclusion is based on a comment one of the visionaries made that was misunderstood. In fact, the Miracle will occur more than twelve months and less than eighteen months after the Warning.
Some have claimed to know the month in which the Miracle will occur. They have reached an incorrect conclusion. Their reasons for narrowing the date to one month is based on misunderstandings and false assumptions.
The idea that the Chastisement (or punishment) can be completely averted by conversion and prayer is incorrect.
The objection is made that the visionary Conchita said that there would only be three more Popes after John the 23rd. This objection is based on a misunderstanding of what she said. She did not say that there would be only three more Popes ever, but that after the reigns of three more Popes were completed, then the events predicted at Garabandal (which begin with the Warning) will occur. Therefore, the Warning will occur during the reign of the fourth Pope after Pope John 23, which is the current Pope Benedict 16. (The succession of relevant popes is: John 23, Paul 6, John Paul 1, John Paul 2, Benedict 16).
Some persons have incorrectly concluded that the Chastisement will occur only a brief time after the Miracle. The Chastisement in the messages of Garabandal refers to supernatural events that are brought about by God to correct and punish the world. Although many sufferings have and will occur in the world, before and after the Warning and the Miracle, the Chastisement itself is the supernatural events that occur many years after the Miracle.
The claim is made that a prediction that the Pope and also Fr (now Saint) Padre Pio would see the Miracle. Some say that Padre Pio did see the Miracle, in a vision of the future event. The Pope who would see the Miracle is most likely the Pope of that time when the Miracle occurs.
The objection against Garabandal, that the messages do not describe the future as conditional, is based on an erroneous understanding of the future. In truth, God knows the whole future with absolute certainty, for He knows all our future free will decisions, prayers and sacrifices, and our future sins. The future seems conditional from our point of view, because we know that if we abandon sin, and increase prayer and sacrifice, that we will be blessed in the future, but if we continue to sin, we will be punished. This idea that the future is conditional is only true from our limited point of view within Time.
The Virgin Mary can present knowledge of the future in messages and apparitions, knowledge that comes to her from God and is absolute and unconditional. At times, she speaks from our point of view, as Scripture also often does, telling us correctly that the future depends upon our free choices. But she can and sometimes does reveal future events that are based on God's absolute knowledge of future events, and such events cannot fail to occur.
The local bishops have issued various rulings on the validity of these apparitions. However, the approval or disapproval of a local bishop, concerning a claim to private revelation, is fallible. In fact, even the Holy See does not and cannot rule infallibly on claims of private revelation. Nor has the Holy See ruled against Garabandal using the fallible temporal authority of the Church.
As a clear example of bishops making mistakes about apparitions, consider he false claim of private revelation to Ida Peerdeman of Amsterdam. A number of bishops in succession gave their disapproval. But another bishop, more recently gave approval (even though this claim of private revelation is clearly false). One can see from this example that bishops can be mistaken when evaluating private revelation.
Furthermore, the position of one local bishop is not binding on all of the faithful worldwide. Many priests and devout Catholics believe in the apparitions and messages at Garabandal. Many dioceses and parishes permit pilgrimages to Garabandal.
Some object to the events at Garabandal because it is said that the visionaries were in a state of ecstasy, and that they took odd postures when in ecstasy, and that they manifested supernatural abilities: being able to run quickly without tiring, running uphill or backwards, etc. My response to this objection is that the Saints throughout the history of the Church have, from time to time, manifested abilities requiring the assistance of Heaven. Such events do not disqualify a claimed private revelation, even if the events are unusual.
Despite the opposition of a number of Catholics and of the local bishop, the apparitions and messages of Garabandal do not contain any of the characteristics of false private revelation.