In response to a query on the CHNI board:
First, no Catholic is obliged to accept any private revelation (which is why we always minimize and underemphasize, if not discourage, their use here), and that is what all Marian apparitions are. For a treatment of this general issue, see:
"Revelations," Fr. Mark Slatter, This Rock, June 1998.
Some apparitions (e.g., Fatima and Lourdes: both of which I accept in faith) are approved by the Church in the sense of being pious, worthy of belief, and faith-building, and not contrary to any Catholic doctrine, with no sense, however, of being binding on every Catholic. Medjugorje is still being investigated by the Church, which has taken no definitive stand as of yet.
Garabandal is not yet "approved" and arguably has some questionable aspects in it. Karl Keating: the "father" of the modern Catholic apologetics movement, contends that it has already been outright falsified, since one of its predictions has not come to pass:
. . . successive bishops of Santander, the diocese in which Garabandal is located, have condemned the apparition. . . .Such a false prediction got false prophets stoned in Old Testament times.
One of the locutions received by the children included the prediction that there would be only three more popes until "the end of the times." The pope when that prediction was made was John XXIII. Then came Paul VI and John Paul I. Now we have John Paul II, who, being John XXIII's third successor, is therefore the last pope.
A further locution told the children that John Paul II would live to see the miracle. The present Holy Father, as we all know, is frail and ailing. While he might live another decade, he might be called home at any time. Most of us will outlive him, which means we will be able to know with certainty whether the warning and the miracle occurred during his reign and whether he turned out to be the last pope.
Although there are more than a dozen Indian casinos within easy driving distance of my home, I do not visit them. I have no interest in gambling. By the time I put the fourth quarter into a slot machine, I'm bored. I can think of smarter and more enjoyable ways to lose money.
But I am tempted to lay a wager, with anyone who might wish to take me up on it, that there will be another conclave of cardinals and that from it another pope will emerge. I do not worry about losing this bet because I have every confidence that Garabandal is a false apparition.
If a new pope is elected, that will put the lie to the apparition's claims. This will doubly be the case if the promised warning and miracle do not arrive during the current pontificate.
[this e-letter of Karl's was written in July 2003]
"The Alleged Apparitions of Garabandal, Spain," by Msgr. Jose Vilaplana, Bishop of Santander Spain (posted at EWTN)
"Convincing Evidence on Garabandal"
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Colin B. Donovan, STL, however, takes a neutral-to-favorable position in another post on EWTN ("Ask the Expert").
As does the Wikipedia article: