Letter of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
To the Archbishop of New Orleans
April 21, 1970
This office has received your letter of April 8, 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 shares your preoccupation 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 from 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 the 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 bishops, in 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, 1969, this Sacred Congregation wrote a letter to this effect to the Bishop of Santander who has also asked for a more explicit declaration of the Holy See in 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 this 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 centres. Rather, the Holy See deplores the fact that certain persons and institutions persist in fomenting the movement in obvious contradiction with the dispositions of ecclesiastical authority, and thus disseminate confusion among the peoples, 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, 1969, n.1.547,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 to the Sacred Congress, 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 Reverent Paul Philippe, Secretary of the 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, i.e., 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,
Franc., Card., Seper, Praef.
(Special Symbol) Paul Philippe,