A friend of my wife is going through the RCIA at a local parish. The question came up about apparitions. The director of the RCIA classes stated that it is not required by the Church to believe in the apparitions of Fatima and Lourdes. Of course my question is if the Church has approved these a true apparitions, why wouldn’t you? What is the official teaching of the Church on appartions and the belief thereof?
When the Church approves of a particular private revelation, it is saying that there is nothing in the private revelation that contradicts the Catholic faith and thus it is safe to give human belief to the apparition. The Church is not binding Catholics’ consciences to believe in any particular private revelation. Unlike Christian sects such as the Seventh-Day Adventists and non-Christian religions such as Mormonism, the Church does not put private revelations near or on par with general revelation because the Church recognizes that general revelation is closed:
Throughout the ages, there have been so-called “private” revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the Magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church.
Christian faith cannot accept “revelations” that claim to surpass or correct the Revelation of which Christ is the fulfillment, as is the case in certain non-Christian religions and also in certain recent sects which base themselves on such “revelations.” CCC 67