Monday, May 26, 2014

Memoirs of a Spanish Country Priest (Chapter II)

Bishop Puchol Montis

CHAPTER II

Sacerdotal Obedience
It appears important for me to present the moral justification of my trips to Garabandal, in spite of “Notas” forbidding it and repeated warnings from the Bishop of Santander.
On August 23, 1961 I wrote to the Apostolic Administrator of the diocese which is not mine, Bishop Doroteo Fernandez of the Diocese of Garabandal itself, at a time when there was still no “Nota” on this matter. In loyalty I wanted to make him aware of my feelings about those who were said to be members of the Diocesan Commission, which I had just met in the village at the time of my first visit. (I will speak later about this meeting, which I consider very important.)
In essence, I said two things to Bishop Fernandez:
1. That I could not commend this Commission.
2. That in my opinion it should be changed.
***
Shortly after the first “Nota” from Santander, dated August 26, 1961, I wrote two other letters: one to my own bishop, the Archbishop of Oviedo, my diocese, Monsignor Segundo Sierra Mendez, the other to the Apostolic Administrator of Santander just mentioned. I requested from each of them permission to make a 10 day retreat: “at a place that appeared to me to be very suitable for recollection, namely Garabandal itself.” At the same time, I expressed clearly the desire to be able to study the ecstasies carefully and on location.
My own archbishop did not answer. On the contrary, Bishop Doroteo did answer to acknowledge receipt of my previous letter of August 23.
He wrote me the following: 1.“You are aware through the press that the presence of priests is not desirable at Garabandal. As a consequence, I cannot give you written authorization.” 2. “The prohibition made in the “Nota” (of August 26, 1961) is not formal.” 3. “I thank you for your letter of August 23 and the evaluation that it gives me on the Commission.”
Concealed in a way, the words appeared clear to me: They gave me a way out, an exit, and I understood that I could use the opportunities that I had at hand.
***
Besides the occasions that presented themselves sporadically, but rather frequently, I went up to the village each summer for 10-15 days.
Prior to going, I would write the bishop then in charge at Santander, to notify him of my plans and to list the dates. I would add, each time, “Excellency, if you forbid me, let me know. If you permit me, it is not necessary to inform me.” I never received a negative response.
One year, not having time to write Bishop Beotia in adequate time, I called him directly by telephone.
“You can go up to Garabandal as often as you want,” he answered me, “But understand clearly that you, the priests that go up there frequently, should refrain from giving public testimony on these events.”
***
During the reign of Bishop Puchol, (may he rest in peace), I did not think it opportune to ask permission. I went up the road from Cosío to the village, but I did not enter the village itself. I did not cross the boundaries until after that “Nota” of March 17, 1967 which everyone knows about.
Did not the “Nota” say that everything could be explained naturally, that everything was only “an innocent game of children”? It affirmed that “nothing at all” had happened at Garabandal. Since it was like this, the prohibition obviously lacked all jurisdictional basis.
After that, I went up frequently to the place, even to the present time.