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An Official of the Doctrine of the Faith and Garabandal

Msgr. Manuel Pio Lopez, Archbishop of Jalapa, Mexico, wrote a letter dated July 8, 1966, in which he not only permitted the diffusion of San Sebastian de Garabandal’s apparitions, but even described his motives for doing so and facilitated the sources he obtained information in favor of the events from. The letter is addressed to Fr. Gustavo Morelos, who was precisely the one who had sought his permission to spread Garabandal’s messages in his archdiocese.

The Archbishop’s words manifest a warm welcome and deep knowledge of the events taken place in Garabandal: “Taking into account the indications of the Holy See and the Ordinary of Santander, Spain, as well as those prescribed by the Code of Canon Law, we approve and bless the publishing of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary’s message in Garabandal in our Archdiocese. In the light of Divine Revelation, we know that there is a great need for more prayer and sacrifice; for reverence for the Holy Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin Mary; and for obedience, love, and filial adherence to the Vicar of Christ and the Holy Church.”

Msgr. Pio Lopez justifies his stance in the first place for the very content of the messages, about which he ensures: “Therefore, we do not find anything contrary to the Faith and customs in this message, attributed to the Blessed Virgin Mary; rather we consider them opportune, useful, and salutary warnings to obtain eternal salvation.” Furthermore, the Archbishop clarifies that the apparitions of Garabandal are not condemned, avoiding misinterpretation of the Church’s prudence on this point. This is why he affirms: “The Holy Church has manifested great prudence in this important matter through attentive study and pastoral vigilance, and by no means through prohibition and rejection.”

Yet, the Archbishop of Jalapa relies on another important reason, which undoubtedly spurs him on to express himself freely in support of the facts in question: the direct knowledge of the declarations stated by Msgr. Philippi, Official of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the epoch of Cardinal Ottaviani, in favor of the apparitions at Garabandal. The prelate affirms: “One of the officials of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Msgr. Philippi, declared to Fr. Elias, Superior of the Carmel in the city of Puebla, that he consulted in Rome about the Blessed Virgin Mary’s apparitions in Garabandal. He was told that the fact that Saint Pio, recognized for his virtue, wisdom, and adherence to the Holy See, approves these apparitions and encourages the four girls to propagate the Blessed Virgin Mary’s message, is proof of their veracity.”

Indeed, in the paragraph quoted, the argument on “authority” has not so much to do with Padre Pio, as with what he transmits regarding the “opinion” of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith about the “Garabandal” matter. One official from this important Roman dicastery would not have dared to make a similar affirmation if the Congregation’s impression of the supposed apparitions were negative, independent of Padre Pio’s position on this matter. This was the opinion of Fr. Julio Porro Cardeñoso—canon of Tarragona, Spain, and prestigious expert in Canon Law—upon becoming familiar with Msgr. Philippi’s declaration, which he considers “an implicit impression that he could have on how the Sacred Congregation regards Garabandal.” For this reason, Fr. Julio, with accumulated experience on the Holy See’s form of acting, affirmed: “Something seems to confirm Msgr. Philippi’s declaration.”

You may read the complete text of the letter (in Spanish) in the photograph accompanying the article.

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