Let others waste their time stupidly following such bewildering phenomena. They, who were the important ones since they had the authority, did not have to follow the thing closely; they had already measured it from afar and knew what it was about. They had heard from the doctor, the priest, and the photographer . . . Case dismissed!
What was disturbing to them was that there were still those obstinate and ignorant people who were holding onto a different opinion from theirs.
Let us hear again from Fr. José Ramón García de la Riva:
«I remained in the church until 11 o'clock, in front of the Blessed Sacrament. I prayed, I reflected. I listened attentively from my place to all that I could hear, which wasn't difficult for everything was said in a loud voice, and nothing seemed to be secret.(33)
For example, I made out perfectly the following sentences, spoken by one of the two priests:
—We'll close the church to this cult.
—We'll give the pastor Father Valentín a month's vacation. Since he seems to be so nervous now, he'll gladly take it.
—We'll order the Jesuit to leave.
—We'll forbid priests to come up to the village.
—And if this comes from God, it will make its own way.»
Brilliant statement, that last one, from the mouths of theologians and priests. As if it were the style of God to impose His way on His human creatures, overcoming all the obstacles and breaking down all the barriers. Were they unaware that God wants to use man in all His acts of salvation? It is necessary to prepare the way with an attitude of sincerity and a mind open to His will—searching docile, with a right intention, with prudence and devotion. God can open a way in spite of all obstacles from man, but He also abandons certain plans of mercy because of those same obstacles. In any case, unfortunate will those be who take a stance more to create difficulties than to seek in their hearts to understand.
It is no wonder that Fr. de la Riva, after describing what happened, says this:
«This is really some program of investigation and procedure by a Commission that finds itself before such serious events! Here comes, as at the praetorium of Pilate, a washing of hands . . . »
Meanwhile, the bishop, relying on the good faith of the doctors and priests, forms on this foundation the «Notas» that we will learn later.
Since what the pastor of Barro has written in his memoirs is very strongly opposed to the Commission, I have sought to corroborate and confirm it with other testimony, and here are some others that I have collected.
«From the impressions that I received from others and from what I myself was able to observe on that day, I have to say that the procedure of the members of the Commission was not at the level of the charge received. They did not apply themselves to observe the affairs personally and from close-up . . . Nor did they get information from the girls or the parish priest. I know that on one of the few times that they came during the ecstasies of the girls, they spent their time in the sacristy, talking, smoking, and joking about the phenomena.»
«I know from Ceferino, Loli's father, that the members of the Commission very seldom came up to the village. Perhaps not all of them even came . . . And Loli told me that while she was in the college at Balmori (Asturias) that they didn't speak with the girls . . . that they satisfied themselves with what the crowd in the village or some of the visitors said.»
Once at the time when Mr. Roche of Saltos del Nansa told me that the visionaries didn't come to the Cuadro on that day because Dr. Morales stopped them and hypnotized them in the calleja, with the result already known . . .
Another time—on the 18th of October, during the first message—when they were protected by the police so that no one would bother them, since the people of the village were angry because of their actions.
And a third time, the night that they were in Garabandal while all the people were sleeping to see if they could secretly bring the visionaries to Santander.»
Let us add two facts from the testimonies:
1. That the Commission never compiled a process of investigation in the required form.
2. That they never conversed seriously with the pastor, Father Valentín Marichalar, from whom they still have not sought a formal declaration.
As can be seen, this is a grave matter, and later further evidence will be brought forth concerning it. I only wish to put down here some of the things about which I am well informed, which have great importance, and which chronologically belong to the hour of Garabandal that we are now describing.
33. Concerning the debate that took place on that night in the little sacristy before the Commission made its decision, we have this short reference from Dr. Ortiz:
«There, in the presence of the pastor Fr. Valentín Marichalar, Fr. Andreu S.J., and those that said they were the Commission, I tried to show them that they were mistaken in many of their opinions . . . And I had to finish by saying that I had not come there to waste my time arguing, that the first thing that had to be done was to observe the affair very closely.»
It was when they were alone that the Commission members delivered in the way that Fr. de la Riva described to us.