Q. 1. What does the catholic Church teach regarding Marian Apparitions? Are we obligated to believe in them?
A. 1. While there are Marian apparitions that are worthy of belief, no Catholic is ever bound to believe in any of them, even those deemed "worthy of belief."
Many seek out Marian apparitions in the hope of learning new revelations. On the matter of private revelations, the Catholic Church states:
"The Christian economy, therefore, since it is the new and definitive Covenant, will never pass away; and no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ." Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries." [Catechism of the Catholic Church # 66]
"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 fulfilment, as is the case in certain non Christian religions and also in certain recent sects which base themselves on such "revelations". [C.C.C. # 67]
If one desires to pursue Marian Apparitions for the purpose of spiritual growth, he/she should read material related to apparitions that were studied and approved by the Catholic Church, these being given the status of "worthy of belief."
The following list consists of apparitions that are worthy of belief:
Our Lady of Akita,
Our Lady of Banneaux,
Our Lady of Beauraing,
Our Lady of Cuapa, Nicaragua,
Our Lady of Fatima,
Our Lady of Guadalupe,
Our Lady of Good Success,
Our Lady of La Salette,
Our Lady of Lourdes,
Our Lady of Knock,
Our Lady of Pellevoisin,
Our Lady of Pontmain,
Our Lady of Rue du Bac,
Our Lady of Rwanda,
Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, and
Our Lady of Zeitun, Egypt.
While there are many others apparitions that have been approved by the Church, these are sufficient to temporarily fill your spiritual hunger.