STATEMENTS FROM THE BISHOPS OF SANTANDER
Although two committees convened by the bishops of Santander declared that there were no phenomena capable of authenticating the facts as undoubtedly supernatural, they did not condemn the message. In this regard, the first commission stated, "We find nothing in need of ecclesiastical censure or condemnation, neither in the doctrine nor in the spiritual recommendations supposedly addressed to the faithful." Bishop Juan Antonio del Val, who called for a second commission, upon retiring from office stated that, "the message of Garabandal was important and theologically correct."
Four consecutive bishops of Santander have spoken out against the supernatural character of the apparitions of Garabandal, which has weighed heavily among the faithful. Here is a brief summary of the statements made by the various bishops who have served the diocese since the beginning of the apparitions until today.
Bishop Doroteo Fernandez (Apostolic Administrator from May 1961 to January 1962)
The Apostolic Administrator of the diocese, Bishop Doroteo Fernandez, basing his conclusions on a technical committee he had appointed to examine the apparitions of Garabandal, published a note in the ecclesiastical bulletin on August 26, 1961, just a little over two months following the start of the apparitions and just a month after the first denials of Conchita, in which he affirmed that there was no evidence confirming the supernatural character of the apparitions. The commission only made two or three visits to the site of the apparitions and concluded that the events were "child's play".
The same Apostolic Administrator, on November 2, 1961, just half a month after the first message of Garabandal, which caused much disappointment, drafted another note – this time without mentioning the technical committee but without a doubt basing his conclusions on their report, as several committee members were present at the promulgation of the message – in which he reiterated his previous judgment that there was no evidence confirming the supernatural character of the apparitions. Obviously, there was no sign of the contrary, i.e. that they were not supernatural. One must keep in mind that one thing is the orthodoxy of the content – on which there was no contrary opinion – and quite another is the origin of the phenomena.
FIRST OFFICIAL NOTE OF BISHOP FERNANDEZ.
Before the constant questions which we receive concerning the nature of the events which are occurring in the village of San Sebastián de Garabandal, and with the desire to guide the faithful in the correct interpretation of these, we believe to be obliged to study them carefully, in order to fulfill our pastoral duty.
With this end in mind, we name a Commission of persons of known prudence and doctrine so that they may inform us, with every guarantee of objectivity and competence, of said events.
In light of the report which has been presented to us, we believe that any definitive judgment that could be made on the nature of the phenomena in question would be premature. To present, nothing obliges us to affirm the supernatural nature of the events which have occurred there.
In view of all this, and with definitive judgment pending the events which might in the future occur, we declare:
1) It is our desire that priests, both diocesan and extra-diocesan, and both male and female religious, even those exempt, abstain for the time being from visiting San Sebastián de Garabandal.
2) We advise Christians to not go to the aforementioned place until ecclesial authority gives a definitive opinion on the matter.
With these provisional means in place, we certainly do not impede divine action in souls, rather, on the contrary, by removing the spectacular character of the events, the light of truth may shine much more easily.
DOROTEO, Current Adminstrator de Santander
Santander, August 26, 1961
(From the Official Bulletin of the Bishop’s Office, August, 1961, p.154.)
SECOND OFFICIAL NOTE OF BISHOP FERNANDEZ. OFFICIAL NOTE ON THE EVENTS OF SAN SEBASTIAN DE GARABANDAL.
Some time ago, I told you what our attitude should be concerning the public rumor that attributes certain extraordinary events, especially revelations, apparitions, and oral locutions with more or less extraordinary signs, to the Most Blessed Virgin.
We would like to see reflected in all of you the utmost discretion and prudence with which the Church judges the supernatural nature of such phenomena. The mighty Lord revealed to us as much as He pleased, to manifest himself, and, in His goodness, to tell us all that he judged to be for our good. To accept just any human opinion as something from the Lord would manifest a great lack of common sense on our part. When God wants to speak, he does so in clear and unmistakable terms; when he wants to say something to us, his words do not provide room for distortion or obscurity. Furthermore, it is up to the Church put in place by Jesus Christ, not to public opinion or, even less so, to the opinion of a particular person, to give a definitive judgment on such events, supposedly supernatural. May no one take and attribute to himself the functions and powers which God has not entrusted him, for that would make him a usurper and an intruder.
Concerning the events which have been happening in San Sebastián de Garabandal, village of our Diocese, I should tell you all, in fulfillment of our pastoral duty, in answer to the lightly-taken and bold interpretation of those who dare to give a definitive sentence where the Church does not believe it yet prudent to do so, and to guide all souls, we declare the following:
1) The mentioned apparitions, visions, locutions, and revelations, up until now, cannot be presented nor held on serious grounds to be true and authentic.
2) Priests should absolutely abstain from all that might contribute to creating confusion among the Christian people. Therefore, they should carefully prevent, in as much as it depends upon them, the organization of visits and pilgrimages to the said places.
3) They should, with simplicity and charity, expose to the faithful the true opinion of the Church in these matters. They should make them understand that our faith does not need the support of supposed revelations and miracles in order to sustain itself. We believe what God has revealed to us and what the Church teaches us, for example, the clear and authentic miracles of Jesus Christ. He gave us these as proof of his doctrine, which no one can add to. If He Himself, or by means of His Most Blessed Mother, judges it good to speak to us, we should be attentive to listen to his words and respond as Samuel did, “Speak Lord for your servant is listening.”
4) They should also transmit to their parishioners that the best disposition to be able to hear the voice of God is perfect, complete and humble submission to the teachings of the Church, and that no one can fruitfully hear the voice of the heavenly Father if they pridefully reject the doctrine of the Holy Mother Church, which receives and sanctifies us on earth.
5) In as much as concerns you, dear faithful, do not let yourselves be seduced by just any doctrine which might be floating around. Trust in and be docile to the teachings of your priests, who are placed at your side to be teachers of the truth of the Church.
I know that you have been eager and waiting and that many souls became restless as they approached the recently passed days. I would like to lead your souls to peace and quiet, which is the basis for a calm and well-balanced judgment. May no one take away from you the precious gift of peace, may you rest in God, and as St. Paul said to the Thessalonians, do “not be quickly shaken in mind or excited, either by spirit or by word, or by letter.”
Dearest children, making these thoughts our own, we pray that the Blessed Virgin, whom we invoke as Sedes Sapientiae (Seat of Wisdom), may enlighten us so that we may come to know everything necessary for the glory of her Son and for our salvation.
Doroteo, Current Administrator
(From the Bulletin of the Bishop’s Office, November, 1961, pp. 214-215.)
- Bishop Eugenio Beitia Aldazabal (January 1962 to January 1965).
The new Bishop of Santander, Eugenio Beitia Aldazabal, signed his first note on October 7, 1962, just a few months after taking over the diocese and on his way to Rome to participate in the Second Vatican Council. This note seems to be the answer to the miracle of the visible communion of Conchita on July 18 of the same year, and in it the bishop who apparently was not yet well informed on the matter of Garabandal, merely ratifies the report of the technical committee which says that "all such phenomena lack any supernatural origin and have an explanation of a natural order." This judgment was undoubtedly premature, as the episcopal commission appointed to investigate what was happening in Garabandal made no serious scientific examination. The same bishop published July 8, 1965, 20 days after the second message of Garabandal, another note. In it, he mentions the technical commission, saying that it continues to believe that there is no evidence of the supernatural origin of the phenomena. This fourth note also contains “an explicit and formal” prohibition of priests to visit Garabandal, without express permission. The first note only expressed the desire that priests not visit, the second recommends that they avoid “the organization of visits and pilgrimages to said places”, and in the third what was banned was not “asistir” (visiting) but “concurrir” (meeting or gathering together with others), with Bishop Beitia’s declaration to a certain priest that this did not imply a formal ban.
Bishop Beitia imposed restrictions on priests who went up to the village without diocesan permission, but he did not condemn the events and noted that, "we have not found anything deserving ecclesiastical censure or condemnation either in the doctrine or in the spiritual recommendations that have been published as having been addressed to the faithful, as they contain an exhortation to prayer and sacrifice, Eucharistic devotion, devotion to Our Lady in traditional and commendable ways, and a holy fear of God who is offended by our sins." He authorized a private investigation led by three doctors, whose conclusion did not coincide with that of the official commission.
FIRST OFFICIAL NOTE OF BISHOP BEITIA. OFFICIAL NOTE ON THE EVENTS OF SAN SEBASTIÁN DE GARABANDAL.
The SPECIAL COMMISSION, which hears the events which are occurring in the village of San Sebastián de Garabandal, has presented us the related report, dating October 4 of the current year. The commission affirms its anterior statements, judging that these phenomena lack all sign of supernatural nature and have a natural explanation.
Consequently, and in our desire that the members of our diocese to be duly informed and that all those who have any relation with the events be provided with sure guidance, in fulfillment of our pastoral duty and employing our given authority:
1. WE CONFIRM in their entirety the OFFICIAL NOTES of the Bishop’s Office of Santander, dating August 26 and October 24, 1961.
2. WE PROHIBIT ALL PRIESTS, both diocesan and extra-diocesan, and all religious still exempt, from visiting the mentioned place without the express permission of the diocesan authority.
3. WE REITERATE TO ALL FAITHFUL the warning that they should abstain from encouraging the atmosphere created by the development of these events and, therefore, should abstain from visiting with this motive the cited village.
In such a grave matter, we expect the timely compliance with these provisions by all of you.
In Santander, Feast of the Rosary, October 7, 1962.
EUGENIO, Bishop of Santander.
(From the Official Bulletin of the Bishop’s Office, November 1962, p. 242.)
SECOND OFFICIAL NOTE OF BISHOP BEITIA. OFFICIAL NOTE OF THE BISHOP’S OFFICE OF SANTANDER ON THE EVENTS OF SAN SEBASTIAN DE GARABANDAL.
We write this NOTE in accord with our Pastoral duty. The name GARABANDAL and the events that occurred during these years in this small village in the mountains of our diocese, have, through the media, spread outside our homeland and our European continent. International agencies have divulged graphic information and special reports about wishes of Our Lady the Blessed Virgin Mary and about spiritual messages. At the same time, we are asked to give an authorized opinion on these events which they wish to unite with other venerable Marian devotions which are universally known.
The Bishop’s Office of Santander has collected very extensive documentation during these years on everything that has occurred there. It has not the “file” on this subject. It will gratefully receive all evidence which is submitted. Up until now, three official NOTES have appeared attempting to guide the judgment of the faithful. This will be the fourth NOTE and, presently, its conclusion is the same as the preceding notes. The Commission implied in the classification of the events has found no reason to modify the already-issued judgment, opining NO CONSTA the supernatural nature of the phenomena, which it has carefully examined.
Consequently, this diocesan authority renews the relevant rulings so that an atmosphere of confusion is not fostered artificially, by means of massive propaganda, outside the confines of the letter and spirit of the sacred canons, and by means of news, newspaper or magazine articles, graphic reports, itinerary reports and other similar means.
All are reminded that according to canon 1399, number 5.0, “books and pamphlets which refer to new apparitions, revelations, visions, prophesies, or miracles, or which introduce new devotions, are prohibited if they are published without observance of the prescriptions of the canons.” We note that in the Diocese of Santander, no “imprimatur” has been granted for any book, pamphlet, article or review of this material. We extend to the full reach of our diocesan authority the same prohibition of this canon to all publication of articles or reports which have not been submitted to the censure of the Diocese of Santander.
We ask all the faithful to abstain from fostering, by their presence in San Sebastián de Garabandal, the atmosphere created around these apparitions and spiritual communication. We note, however, that we have not found any material worthy of condemning by ecclesial censure, neither in doctrine nor in the spiritual recommendations directed towards the Christian faithful, for they contain an exhortation to prayer and sacrifice, Eucharistic devotion, devotion to Our Lady in traditional praiseworthy forms and a holy fear of God, who is offended by our sins. They simply repeat the current doctrine of the Church in these matters. We recognize the good faith and religious fervor of those who come to San Sebastián de Garabandal, they deserve profound respect. We wish to count precisely on this same religious fervor, so that, fully trusting in the Hierarchy of the Church and in its Magisterium, they might comply, with the greatest possible exactitude, with our repeatedly published recommendations.
Concerning priests, because of the special importance which their intervention may have, both in their form of active participation and collaboration in the development of the events and by their simple presence as spectators, we explicitly and formally PROHIBIT their attendance without express permission of the diocesan authority on an individual and case-by-case basis. We declare that those who contravene our formal warning will have their faculties suspended in the Diocese of Santander “ipso facto.” The Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office has contacted the Diocese of Santander to obtain adequate information on this grave matter.
Santander, July 8, 1965,
EUGENIO, Bishop Current Administator of Santander.
(From the Bishop’s Office Bulletin, July 1965, pp 180-82)
- Bishop Vicente Puchol Montis (July 1965 to May 1967).
After the girls' statements denying everything (fulfilling the prophecy of Our Lady in 1961 that said that this would be the case) he tried to put an end to Garabandal. He published the fifth note on March 17, 1967. This note is no longer based, like its predecessors, on the report of the technical committee but on the statement of the visionaries, which Bishop Puchol claims proves that there have been no apparitions or messages and that “all the events that have taken place in this town have a natural explanation.” Clearly, a prelate who publicly said, “I’ll put in an end to this, no matter what it takes”, cannot be taken for a fair judge, especially knowing that the verdict was not supported by any professional study conducted by scientific experts, something which such a delicate issue demanded. Anyways, there is not a word on what the real competence of a bishop as bishop is, i.e. dogma, morals, liturgy, or canon law.
OFFICIAL NOTE FROM BISHOP PUCHOL. SAN SEBASTIÁN DE GARABANDAL.
On August 30, September 2, 7 and 27, and October 11, 1966, we ourselves, accompanied by the Vicar General, the Provisor del Obispado and the Parish Priest of San Sebastián de Garabandal, and at the request, made to said parish priest, of the interested parties, we have proceeded to make a declaration to Conchita González González, Mari Loli Mazón González, Jacinta González González y Mari Cruz González Madrazo referring to the events which occurred in San Sebastián de Garabandal beginning on June 18, 1961.
The following are the declarations of the interested parties:
1. That no apparition of the Blessed Virgin or of Saint Michael the Archangel or of any other heavenly personage has ever existed.
2. There has been no message.
3. That all the events which occurred in said village have a natural explanation.
Upon giving the present Note, we can do no less than congratulate the Clergy and faithful of the diocese of Santander, who at all times and with filial obedience, have followed the indications of the Hierarchy. We lament that this example was not followed by others who have sown confusion and mistrust of the Hierarchy by their imprudent conduct, impeding the girls, by tremendous social pressure, from dissipating what they had begun as an innocent girls’ game.
Once more, it is good to remind all that messages from heaven come through the words of the Gospel, through the Popes and Councils and through the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church.
Santander, March 17, 1967.
VICENTE, Bishop of Santander.
(From the Official Bulletin of the Bishop’s Office, January-March 1967, p.35.)
- Bishop José Cirarda Lachiondo (July 1968 to December 1971)
He was strongly opposed to Garabandal and managed, through Cardinal Jean Villot (Vatican Secretary), to present the national and foreign press with a new note on the events of Garbandal on October 9, 1968. The note ratifies what the three previous prelates have declared, especially the fact that there is no evidence confirming the supernatural character of the events at Garabandal, according to the first two and that everything has a natural explanation, according to the third, who supposedly presented his opinion in accordance with the Holy See.
OFFICIAL NOTE FROM THE SECRETARIAT OF THE BISHOP’S OFFICE NOTE ON THE EVENTS OF SAN SEBASTIÁN DE GARABANDAL.
The Secretariat of the Bishop’s Office of Santander, by order of his Excellency Bishop José Maria Cirarda Lachiondo, in reference to the recently published articles in some magazines and daily widespread newspapers about the events in San Sebastián de Garabandal, states:
1) That the Sacred Hierarchy of the Church is the only judge that can decide in such a delicate subject.
2) That the three previous Bishops, Monsignor Doroteo Fernández, Monsignor Eugenio Beitia, and Monsignor Vicente Puchol, expressed the opinions of the Hierarchy on 5 occasions, on: August 26 and October 19, 1961, October 7, 1962, July 8, 1965, and March 17, 1967.
3) That the first two Prelates agree that “supernatural nature of the events, which were carefully studied, has not been confirmed.” The phenomena were studied by the Commission instituted for that purpose. The last Prelate, after having discussed the matter with the Holy See, affirmed “that all the events of said village have a natural explanation.”
4) That Monsignor Beitia’s guidelines remain in force:
(Official Record of the Bishops Office, 1965, pg. 181)
a. Priests are forbidden intervention of any kind, be it participation and active collaboration in the development of the events, or their simple presence as spectators. Those who attend without express individual permission, on a case-by-case diocesan basis, will have their faculties suspended in the Diocese of Santander.
b. All Christian Faithful are asked to refrain from encouraging, by their presence in San Sebastián de Garabandal, the atmosphere created around these events.
c. All are reminded that, according to canon 1399*, “books and pamphlets which refer to new apparitions, revelations, visions, prophesies, or miracles, or which introduce new devotions, are prohibited if they are published without observance of the prescriptions of the canons.” Note that in the Diocese of Santander, no “imprimatur” has been granted for any book, pamphlet, article or review and the publication of any article or information not previously submitted to the censure of the Diocese is prohibited.
5) The filial obedience with which the clergy and faithful of the Diocese of Santander have followed the indications of its Prelates in this matter is praiseworthy. Of special mention is the obedience of the Most Reverend Parish Priest of San Sebastián de Garabandal who, when on occasion has prohibited the celebration of the holy Mass or of special times of worship by those who visit said parish, does nothing more than he has been instructed.
6) On the contrary, the obstinacy with which some insist on promoting large scale publicity campaigns within and outside of Spain, in erecting “Garabandal Centers,” in celebrating congresses of the same name, in organizing visits to the site of the happenings, and even in building a temple there, against the will of the Diocesan Hierarchy, is lamentable. All of this reveals a rebellious contradiction of the Church’s thought on the matter and is a clear sign against the supposed supernatural nature of said events in San Sebastián de Garabandal and of the atmosphere created around these events, except the good faith of those who, ignoring the provisions of the Heirarchy, visit this place.
The Bishop of Santander hopes that all the faithful might fulfill with the greatest possible precision the repeatedly published provisions, which still apply in full force, of his predecessors.
Santander, October 9, 1968.
*This Canon, cited by Monsignor Beitia, later lost its “force of ecclesial law” as was declared by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Decree published on November 15, 1966. However, this decree “reinforces the value of the moral law which absolutely prohibits placing faith and morals at risk.”
- Bishop Juan Antonio del Val Gallo (December 1971 to August 1991)
Although he did not believe in Garabandal when he took office as Bishop, he showed an open mind in contrast to his two predecessors. As a canon of the Cathedral of Sandander in 1961, he was a member of the original commission but resigned for the way they carried out their affairs. He is the only Bishop of Santander who has seen the visionaries in ecstasy. After a pastoral visit in 1977, he lifted the bans of his predecessors regarding spreading the message of the apparitions and priests celebrating Mass in the place in which they allegedly took place. He also allowed the filming of a documentary about them and instituted the first interdisciplinary Episcopal Commission that took up the case.
Around 1981, he began to believe in the events. In 1983, he gave Dr. Luis Morales of the original commission, who had also come to believe in the apparitions, permission to lecture in the largest auditorium of Santander in defense of the events of Garabandal. In 1987, he instituted a new investigation of the apparitions and lifted the ban for priests to visit the site, allowing them to celebrate Mass in the village church with the pastor's permission.
- Bishop José Vilaplana Blasco (August 1991 to July 2006)
He showed that he did not believe in Garabandal in a letter in 1993 to Ramón Pérez, while at the same time he maintained the policy of Bishop del Val without making changes.
In a letter to Richard Paul Salbato of Fatima, he reiterates the position of his predecessors.
Santander. November 7th, 2001.
D. Richard Paul Salbato
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Recently a number of people, like you, have approached me as Bishop of Santander, enquiring about the “alleged apparitions” of Garabandal and, in particular, about the position of the hierarchy of the Church regarding this matter. I have to say that:
1- All the bishops in the Dioceses, from 1961 to 1970, stated they had no evidence to support the supernatural nature of the apparitions that some people claimed were happening at that time.
2- In the month of December 1977 Mon. del Val, Bishop of Santander, expressed his agreement with his predecessors, and stated that in the six years he had been at the Bishopric there had been no other phenomenon.
3 -However Mon. del Val himself, after the confusion or enthusiasm of the first years, commissioned an interdisciplinary study to examine those phenomena in more depth. The conclusion of the study was in agreement with that of the previous statement given by the Bishops, that is, there was nothing supernatural in those supposed apparitions. 4- This study was completed around the time when I took charge of the Dioceses in 1991. Taking advantage of my visit to Rome for the visit ad Limina that year, I showed the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith the study and asked them for guidance on my pastoral action regarding this case. 5- Dated 28th November 1992, the Congregation sent me their reply in which it is stated that, after having examined carefully all the documents, they did not find it necessary to intervene directly or to withdraw this affair from the ordinary jurisdiction of the Bishop of Santander, which is his by right. Previous declarations from the Holy See agree with this statement. (1) In the same letter it is suggested that if I considered it appropriate, I should publish a declaration to reiterate the fact that there is no evidence to support the supernatural nature of the alleged apparitions, and so make my own the unanimous position of my predecessors. 6- As the statements of my predecessors who had studied the case had been clear and unanimous,I did not consider it necessary to make a new public declaration and I wished to avoid drawing attention to matters which were now well in the past. However, I did consider it relevant to write this report as a direct answer to those people who seek orientation on this affair, which I now consider concluded, accepting the decisions of my predecessors, which I make my own, and the directions of the Holy See. 7- Concerning the celebration of mass in Garabandal, following the dispositions of my predecessors, I only permit them to be celebrated in the parish church with prior authorization of the parish priest, and ask that no reference should be made to the alleged apparitions. Hoping this information is of some help to you, my regards in Christ, + José Vilaplana Bishop of Santander
- Archbishop Carlos Osoro Sierra, Arzobispo de Oviedo (Apostolic Administrator, July 2006 to September 2007)
He inaugurated a new attitude in the hierarchy toward Garabandal, following the positive steps that had been taken by Bishop del Val.
- Bishop Vicente Zamora (September 2007 - December 2014)
He did not issue any formal statement on Garabandal.
On May 6, 2012, he presided the solemn events that took place on the occasion of the blessing and rededication of the Church of San Sebastian de Garabandal.
- Bishop Manuel Sánchez Monge (30th May, 2015, until present day)
Although in these notes, for the time being, the bishops do not find anything supernatural about the alleged apparitions (a question that remains open to revision in light of new information or in light of a better scientific study of existing information), they have said nothing against the content thereof (“we have not found anything deserving ecclesiastical censure or condemnation either in the doctrine or in the spiritual recommendations that have been published”) and this was and is precisely their role as a Church that instructs.
EVALUATION OF THE NOTES FROM THE BISHOPS OF SANTANDER
To properly evaluate the unfavorable judgment of the four bishops of Santander, one must consider the grounds on which they base their claims, i.e. in the case of the first two, on the report of the technical committee and in the case of other two, on not only the judgment of the previous bishops but also on the denials of the visionaries.
Regarding the value of the reports from the technical commission.
This committee apparently consisted of three canons and professors from Santander: Fr. Juan Antonio del Val, who would later become Bishop of Santander, Fr. Francisco Odriozola, and Fr. Jose María Saiz, who died suddenly in 1964. There were also two doctors: Dr. Morales, psychiatrist from Santander, and Dr. Piñal, anesthetist. However, Fr. Francisco Odriozola, secretary of the commission, was, according to a statement he made in 1962, the “real engine of it [the commission]”, which had led him to be known as “the soul and engine” of the commission.
The fact is there is more than enough information to suspect on reasonable grounds that these members of the commission adopted an a priori or preconceived negative attitude regarding the apparitions of Garabandal, an attitude we can summarize in the fact that for them it was unacceptable that the Blessed Virgin Mary could appear so often, in such an uncommon and rare fashion to four girls from a small village in the mountains of Santander and, therefore, everything had to be attributed to the imagination of four girls, encouraged by the pilgrims who continually flocked to Garabandal.
First of all, within 40 days of the initial apparitions, Conchita, who was considered their main protagonist, was transferred to Santander at the request of certain members of the committee in an effort to bring an end to the alleged apparitions. The day after her arrival there, according to what Conchita says in her diary, Dr. Morales, member of the commission, and other doctors examined her. Their conclusions were that the girl was normal, but that “all this about the apparitions was a dream”, recommending a good environment of distractions in Santander as treatment to rid her of her fantasies or hallucinations. Eight days later, her mother and aunt came to take her back to Garabandal and Dr. Piñal, commission member, took things to the extreme, using not only flattery – presenting her a smiling future if she stayed in Santander – but also threats, saying that they would even put her in an asylum if she persisted in talking of her appearances, until he finally got her to sign a blank sheet of paper denying her appearances. Likewise, the apostolic administrator of the diocese and Fr. Francisco Odriozola also flattered her with promises in this regard.
Secondly, one of the few times that members of the committee visited Garabandal – according to reports from reliable witnesses, the member who most visited the place was only present on six occasions – they demonstrated an evidently negative preconceived bias. It was August 22, 1961, two months and a few days into the apparitions. According to the pastor of Barro-Llanes (Oviedo), Fr. José Ramón García de la Riva, the girls fell into ecstasies after the Rosary. And on one of those occasions, as they entered the church in this state, he could hear Doctor Piñal saying aloud, “What? Does this charade continue?" Likewise, the priest chairman of the committee also commented out loud, “I don’t believe in this.... no matter what happens.” Later on, the commissioners deliberated about what to do and said to one another, “Let's close the church for worship. We can give Fr. Valentín a month off – I’m sure he’ll accept, he seems a bit nervous... We’ll have the Jesuit priest (Ramón M. Andreu) leave. We’ll prevent priests from coming up here and... if this is from God, things will unfold." A few days later, on August 26, the first unfavorable note from the bishop regarding the apparitions was issued.
Thirdly, word had just gotten out that Fr. Lucio Rodrigo, moral professor at Comillas for many years, had shown signs of admitting the supernatural character of the phenomena at Garabandal. In September 1961, the three priest members of the commission (who had been his “disciples”) and Dr. Piñal went to Comillas to meet with him. As regards this meeting, Father Lucio Rodrigo told a person worthy of confidence, “It was not hard for me to understand that what they were seeking was not exactly my opinion, as an element to help them formulate a judgment: They came with their judgment already placed against the possible sign of supernatural character in the events.” He also told this person that from that moment on, he sensed in the committee members something that would later become almost obvious: that they “were on a hunt for data or evidence against [Garabandal].”
There are also words and events involving members of the committee that demonstrate this preconceived bias. In particular, it is curious to note what happened with Dr. Morales, psychiatrist, on July 11, 1961. Pretending to be a Carmelite, he tried to convince the four girls that their apparitions were false, assuring visitors that from that day on the girls would no longer have apparitions. Shortly after he left, the girls fell into ecstasies that lasted about seven minutes.
From all this it follows that the notes that were published by the bishops of Santander, based on the reports of the technical committee, suffer a lack of serious and impartial information on the part of the commission.