In November 1996 a letter from Bishop Jose Vilaplana Blasco of Santander, Spain, "postmarked October 11, 1996" appeared in a periodical called GOSPA MISSIONS. Since then, it has been widely circulated causing confusion because the English translation of the original Spanish is inaccurate in key areas.
This letter has now appeared on the Internet and in The National Catholic Register and was reprinted in SOUL Magazine in its March-April 1997 issue. We have, therefore, to rectify the situation.
Firstly, the letter is not new. Ramon Perez, the author of Garabandal - the Village Speaks, received the original in Spanish dated 8 June l993 from Bishop Vilaplana. (Where therefore did they get the above-mentioned date of October 11th l996? Was it deliberately updated?)
Secondly, we have the original Spanish and it is obvious to those who understand the language that there have been serious discrepancies in the translation. We mention only one as follows:
GOSPA translation: All the bishops of the diocese since l96l through l970 agreed that there was no supernatural validity for the apparitions (last part of the sentence omitted).
CORRECT translation: All the bishops of the diocese since 1961 through 1970 affirmed that the supernatural character of said apparitions was not certain for those succeeding years.
Furthermore, the entire GOSPA translation conveys a harsh tone that is not characteristic of the Spanish original. Whoever made that translation is obviously hostile toward Garabandal. Incidentally, SOUL Magazine has made the correction in their May-June 1997 issue in accordance with the accurate translation outlined above.
We now quote the last two paragraphs of the Bishop's letter in full because they are important for our comments. We will use our own translation and these two paragraphs are numbered 6 and 7 in the original:
6. Given the declarations of my predecessors who studied the case have been clear and unanimous I do not believe it opportune at this time to make a new public declaration which would only give notoriety to events that happened so long ago. However, I do believe it timely to reissue this information as a direct response to those persons who ask for orientation about this question which I consider finished, accepting the decisions of my predecessors -- which I make my own -- and the directives of the Holy See.
7. Referring to the celebration of the Eucharist in Garabandal, following the dispositions of my predecessors, Mass can only be celebrated in the village church without reference to the alleged apparitions and with the authorization of the current pastor who acts on my behalf.
The misuse of the Spanish verb constar definitely changes the meaning implied in the letter. But aside from that, it is nevertheless true that Bishop Vilaplana considers the matter settled; and has no intention of continuing the study, at the diocesan level, of these events. What should be the response of the followers of Garabandal? The facts are these:
- Garabandal has never been condemned as is clearly stated in the nota of Bishop Eugenio Beitia Aldazabal dated 8 July 1965 -- "we have found no grounds for an ecclesiastical condemnation" (And this has been specifically confirmed by Bishop del Val Gallo in the video entitled Garababandal - the Eyewitnesses.)
- The messages of Garabandal "do not contain anything contrary to traditional Church teaching on Faith and Morals" (Declaration of Bishop Jose Cirada Lachiondo published in June 1970.)
- The spiritual recommendations made at Garabandal were under "traditional praiseworthy forms" (nota of Bishop Beitia, 8 July 1965).
- Expressions no constaba and no consta indicate that the door is open for future amendment. The declaration of the Bishop of Santander is not irrevocable. We have been assured of this by an ecclesiastic who is a canon lawyer. While it is certainly Bishop Vilaplana's prerogative to regard the matter finished as far as he is concerned, how can the case of Garabandal be considered closed so long as the date of the prophesied miracle is still pending? And Conchita, the visionary who knows the date, has said that she will reveal it at the proper time.
- With the abrogation in 1967 of canons 1399 and 2318, it is permitted without ecclesiastical censorship, to publish information about alleged manifestations and visit the sites thereof so long as there is nothing in the events contrary to the Church's teaching on Faith and Morals. Garabandal clearly passes this test.
Bishop Vilaplana has cordially received Jacinta on two occasions and Conchita at least once. In fact, after the circulation of his letter, Mari Loli telephoned him about it. He told her it was not meant for publication. (So why was it on the Internet?)
The bottom line is that the Garabandal events are of such an awesome nature that the seal of authenticity can only come from an act of God and that is what we eagerly await in the Warning and Miracle and in the Sign that will be left at the Pines in Garabandal until the end of time. And let's not forget that Fr. Luis Andreu and Padre Pio have already been given a preview of the Miracle. So Garabandalists take heart and be assured that the status of the events is the same as it has always been and will probably remain so until the great events take place. Then, as Our Lady has assured us, "All will believe."