Spanish bishop makes statement on alleged apparitions at Garabandal

Nicolás de Cárdenas   By Nicolás de Cárdenas for CNA


Parish Church of San Sebastián de Garabandal (Spain). / Credit: Lourdes Cardenal (CC BY-SA 3.0)

ACI Prensa Staff, Oct 20, 2022 / 17:20 pm (CNA).

The bishop of Santander, Manuel Sánchez Monge, has stated regarding the extraordinary events of Garabandal that “my position, like that of my predecessors, is that Rome’s assessment remains valid: ‘There are no signs of supernaturality.’”

In addition, he acknowledged that he contacted the San Pablo Center of University Studies (CEU) to express his displeasure because they had not consulted him before hosting an event of devotees of the alleged apparitions.

“I only let those at the CEU know, not Cardinal Osoro, that I did not like that they had not consulted me before authorizing that event,” the prelate told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language sister news agency.

The bishop of Santander was addressing the controversy surrounding an event titled “Madrid with Garabandal,” which took place in the restaurant of a sports club near the Spanish capital.

The organizers, who had planned for the event to be held at the San Pablo CEU, announced the change of venue pointing out that it was “for reasons beyond the control of the organizers.”

Some information in the days prior suggested that the bishop of Santander had called the archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Carlos Osoro, to put pressure on the CEU for the event to not be held at the university founded by the Catholic Association of Propagandists in 1933.

In a statement to ACI Prensa, the Archdiocese of Madrid denied its participation in this controversy and specified that “neither Cardinal Osoro nor anyone from the archdiocese has contacted the CEU or the organization in relation to this event.”

At the beginning of his address at the event on Garabandal, Jorge Fernández Díez, Spain’s former minister of the interior, made mention of  the fact that the venue had been changed for reasons beyond the control of the organizers.

The causes for transferring the event, he said, “are the same causes that have been torpedoing for 61 years that the truth of what happened might be rigorously investigated.”

“We have the right to petition, to request, and to pray for a serious and rigorous investigation to be carried out out of respect for the faithful and out of respect for the Virgin,” he stressed.

‘Grave responsibility to study these facts’

Álvaro de Cárdenas, a priest of the Diocese of Getafe, present at the event, told ACI Prensa that “it’s a grave responsibility of the Church to study the events of Garabandal.”

In his opinion, “if the Church of Santander ignores its serious obligation, the Church of Rome should take on the investigation” in order to “rule on its origin” and offer a concrete response to the people of God.

Through the initiative Garabandal está vivo, more than 2,000 people have signed a petition that calls on the bishop of Santander to promote “a rigorous study under the light of the Holy Spirit of everything that happened in San Sebastián de Garabandal.”

What happened in Garabandal?

The alleged extraordinary events took place in the small village of San Sebastián de Garabandal between 1961 and 1965. There, four girls — Conchita, Jacinta, Mari Loli, and Maricruz — claimed to have witnessed apparitions of St. Michael the Archangel and the Virgin Mary.

Those events attracted crowds who claimed to witness the girls (around 11 years old) in ecstasy, levitating, and other phenomena.

The declaration of the bishop of Santander that in Garabandal “there are no signs of supernaturality” is the most explicit message that has been made from the Spanish episcopate in recent years.

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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  1. There is an absolutely superb book written on this subject. It is rare that a Licentiate Thesis at a Pontifical Institute would get published, particularly when the book concerns a private revelation that has not been approved yet, but that is ultimately what happened with Jose Luis Saavedra’s Garabandal: Message of Hope, easily available online. This book is well worth reading. Revised somewhat from the original academic format to make it generally digestible, Saavedra situates the discussion refreshingly in the broader context of prophecy, with the infrequently accepted suggestion that Marian apparitions like Garabandal be interpreted in this context, where there is a well-developed
    theology and spirituality. This book is a real gem, and has a Preface written by the Department Head in Theology at the University of Navarre in Spain. This book is a real page turner, assiduously researched and articulately presented. This book is a must read for anyone looking for a full picture of Garabandal.

    • Thomas,
      The preface to that book is worth reading. I have only perused the book, so can’t make a definitive judgement. However, I have my friend, Fr. Saavedra’s two Spanish books and find them difficult, and translations usually aren’t as good as the original. The repeated improper use of semi-colons is only one of the difficulties. Conchita’s Diary is the only prime source that I recall that he cites. On page 130 of Garabandal, Mensaje de Esperanza, for instance, he cites Lanus describing how people were disappointed when they heard the first message. Wow! How does the Argentine who didn’t show up until the 70’s know that? Saavedra told me that he used modern authors to show that there is still interest in Garabandal. I found it difficult to know who was speaking, who was relating what was seen, heard or felt.
      Have you read Fr. Pesquera’s “Se Fue con Prisas a la Montana,” Ramon Perez’ “El Pueblo Habla,” or Ed Kelly’s “A Walk to Garabandal a Journey of Happiness and Hope”? I trust that you would agree that Conchita’s Diary stands apart. The original hand-written manuscript with all of her errors is delightful, a gem. For coverage of the church’s investigation of, and pronouncing on the apparitions, none come close to Canon Julio Porro’s three works. Among these are, “Garabandal, Sin Interes” and “El Portento de Garabandal.”
      Does ”It is rare that [this work] would get published, particularly when the book concerns a private revelation that has not been approved yet,” come from the author? He told me that his thesis would not have been accepted if it had not been for the then Santander Diocesan Apostolic Administrator Archbishop Carlos Osoro’s (now Madrid Cardinal) letter to me writing favorably on these apparitions.
      I met Fr. Saavedra years ago. His Home of the Mother group has done heroic work in making Garabandal known in much of the world. In one of the religious society’s three houses, the sisters dedicate themselves to making and editing documentaries. You can see me in one of them, “Unstoppable Waterfall.”
      In my six weeks in the village last Spring I met numerous small groups from Columbia, Argentina and many parts of Spain. Conchita’s sister-in-law Paquita told me on the phone a few months ago that the village was crowded with pilgrims in the Fall. It sounded like she meant more visitors than at any time since the apparitions.
      Marysville, California

  2. Sr. deCardenas:
    You write, “The bishop of Santander, Manuel Sánchez Monge, has stated regarding the extraordinary events of Garabandal that “my position, like that of my predecessors, is that Rome’s assessment remains valid: ‘There are no signs of supernaturality.’” Wow! Bishop Monje cites no source for that. Does he have one? The Vatican’s Cardinal Seper writes in his March 10 1969 letter to Santander Bishop Cirarda (page 36-37 of “Declaraciones Oficiales de la Jerarquia Sobre Garabandal,”) ‘. . .this office [of the Vatican] has never issued an authoritative judgment from the Holy See.’ Cardinal Seper gives reasons for the Vatican leaving the judgments with the Santander Bishops.
    You continue, “The alleged extraordinary events took place. . .” What the investigating doctors call “naturally unexplainable reactions” are well documented by videos, photos, audio recordings and the testimonies of thousands of eye-witnesses. What do you mean by alleged events?
    You end with, “The declaration of the bishop of Santander that in Garabandal ‘there are no signs of supernaturality’ is the most explicit message that has been made from the Spanish episcopate in recent years.” That is a change from his one “official” statement of June 24, 2015. In this he says that he agrees with his predecessors who “affirmed that it wasn’t certain whether these apparitions were of a supernatural nature or not.” (Garabandal Mensaje de Esperanza,p. 6 [my translation].
    What indication is there that this significant change was meant for the whole world and not just for the Madrid group that he addressed? I would be surprised to see it in the Diocesan bulletin as are the other Official declarations of the eight men who have served as bishop or apostolic administrator since 1961.
    What positive events about Garabandal has CNA published? Did it publish Madrid Cardinal Carlos Osoro’s very positive evaluation of these apparitions when he served as Santander Apostolic Administrator? If not, why not? That “official” statement expressed in a May 7, 2007 letter to me, can be found on page 5 of the above-mentioned book. It has travelled the internet world for years.
    When I spoke with Bishop Monje in 2019, he had nothing to say about Garabandal.
    You ask please consider donating to support our efforts. Not until you stop misleading people about what many consider the most important apparitions of our times and perhaps of all time.
    Ed Kelly “A Walk to Garabandal a Journey of Happiness and Hope.”

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