One of these men is Clemente Dominguez y Gomez, a Spaniard who took the pontifical name Gregory XVII. Gomez was born in Seville on the 23rd April 1946. He witnessed an apparition of the Virgin Mary at El Palmar de Troya, Seville in 1969. Such visions had been common amongst the Catholic faithful in El Palmar de Troya much to the consternation of Chuch officials who, as elsewhere found themselves in the position of trying to play down the enthusiasm of the Chuch’s more Marian and mystically orientated followers.
In this situation Gomez put himself in a position of leadership amongst the pilgrims claiming not only to have seen visions but also to have received messages from Mary.
These messages included a number of fundamental criticisms of the Catholic Church and a conspiracy theory to explain its wayward trajectory. According to the Virgin Mary, according to Gomez, the then Pope, Paul VI, had been kidnapped, drugged and kept prisoner in the Vatican. Paul’s captors worked for an unlikly combination of forces; the Freemasons and the Communists! The Pope was not the only Catholic under the control of the conspiracy, whilst Paul VI was forced to comply as a result of an enforced drug regime, most of the Cardinals, Bishops and even priests were said to be willing participants in the scheme.
With the Vatican subverted it is left to El Palmar de Troya to become the centre of a true Catholic Church free of the evil influences of Freemasonry and Communism. One does not have toimagine too hard how the Vatican feels about these allegations.
The wider world fairs badly too in the messages Gomez has received from Mary. There are prophesies of civil wars, nuclear conflict and natural disasters. ASs is usual with these kinds of doom laden predictions, there is one way out, prayer.
El Palmar de Troya has remained a pilgrimage centre for Gomez’s followers and Gomez has embarked on tours to promote his message throughout Spain and beyond.
In December 1975 Gomez founded a new religious order called the Carmelites of the Holy Face and gave its members a rule which requires a particularly austere lifestyle and a responsibility of preparing for the second coming of Christ.
December 1975 proved to be a busy time for Gomez as he was ordained in thae same month by the wayward Catholic Archbishop, Peter Martin Ngo-Dinh-Thuc. In January the following year Ngo-Dinh-Thuc consecrated Gomez (along with several of his followers).
In May 1976 tragedy struck as Bishop Gomez (as he now was) was blinded in a car accident. It was during his recovery that Gomez received the first spiritual indication that he was to become the next Pope.
And so on the death of Pope Paul VI in 1978, Gomez became Pope Gregory XVII without even the need of a conclave to legitimise his acendency. For good measure Gomez was also appointed Emperor and having gained the Papacy, Gomez declared that El Palmar de Troya was to replace Rome as the Papal seat. A coronation ceremony was duely held with Gomez being crowned Pope in August 1978 in a service presided over by Gregory XVII’s very own College of Cardinals.
Another contemporary anti-pope is the American Earl Pulvermacher who prefers to be known as Pius XIII. Pulvermacher was born in 1918 and his background is perhaps more conventional for a Pope than Gomez’s. Pulvermacher entered the Order of Capuchins in 1942 and was ordained in 1946 and went on to spend many years working as a priest in Japan and Australia.
For Pulvermacher things began to go wrong in the Catholic Church after the death of Pius XII and the subsequent election of John XXIII in 1958. According to Pulvermacher (following the conspiracy theory of Piers Comton The Broken Cross) unknown to the cardinals who elected him, Pope John was both a Freemason and a Rosicrucian.
The liberal reforms of the Vatican II Council in the 1960’s took things further still. Despite holding firm in its opposition to artificial methods of contraception the fact that natural methods of birth control were contemplated by the Council was anathema to Pulvermacher. Likewise the Council’s dilution of emphasis on hell and damnation. In the late 1970’s Pulvermacher joined the pro-Latin wing of the Catholic Church organised around the Society of St. Pius X which would later be expelled from the Church and its leader Archbishop Lefebvre excommunicated. Long before Lefebvre’s break with the church however Pulvermacher had broken from the Society of St. Pius X because he questioned their prqctise of giving the sacrement to Catholics who supported Vatican II. In short Pulvermacher was too conservative for the ultra-conservatives.
Eventually Pulvermacher discovered a few fellow travellers and in October 1998 a conclave was organised to elect a new Pope. This conclave differed in several respects to the ones we normally associate with the election of Popes. Instead of being held in Rome this alternative conclave was held in a wooden house in Montana, the media were virtually absent and most of the electors phoned in their votes.
The result of the conclave was the election of Pulvermacher who appears to have accepted the position extremely reluctantly - thereby fulfilling one convention associated with the election of ‘real’ Popes. Another convention adhered to was the release of white smoke to announce to the world that a new Pope had been chosen though few peope in Montana, let alone the wider world noticed.
Pulvermacher took the name Pius XIII and resides on his Papal throne in Springdale, Washington.
Another anti-Pope of the late twentieth century, albeit now deceased, was Michel Collin. Collin had actually been a Catholic Priest and a member of the Order of the Sacred Heart. He was dismissed from the latter and excommunicated from the Church in 1951 after declaring himself to be Pope Clement XV in 1950. Collin established himself and the headquarters of his movement at St. Jovite, Canada.
Collin predicted a world wide catastrophe would occur on February 20th 1969 and when his prophesy was disconfirmed accused his detractors of ‘quibbling over dates’.
Among Collin’s more unlikely supporters at this time were members of a Danish UFO cult called IGAP (International Get Acquianted Program), led by one H. Peterson and inspired by the famous American contactee George Adamski.
The movement started by Collin has had various names over the years including; The Apostles of Infinite Love, Order of the Mother of God, Apostles of the Latter Times, Renovated Church of God and The Order Of The Magnificat Of The Mother Of God.
Clement XV/Michel Collin seems to have retired from the Papacy naming his successor as pope and head of the St. Jovite based movement. This was Gaston Tremblay or Gregory (sometimes Jean Gregory) XVII. Tremblay who took up the Papal mantle in 1968. Collin himself died in 1974.
If none of the above Pope’s sound particularly appealing to any budding anti-Pope supporters there are many more to choose from.
Then there is Chester Olszewski of Pennsylvania, a defrocked Episcopalian priest who became Pope Peter II in 1980. Olszewski is one of several contemporary anti-Popes to claim the title Peter II. Another Peter II is Pierre Henri Bubois of Brussels, another still is the German Julius Tischler and yet another is Maurice Achieri of Le Perreux, France who became an anti-Pope in 1995. Interestingly Achieri was able to claim a genuine apostolic succession courtesy of a legitimate consecration (i.e. he was a real bishop) from an Old (schismatic) Catholic lineage.
Americans seem to be particularly keen on the papacy, in addition to those already cited we may add Francis Konrad Schuckardt of Spokane, Washington, who declared himself Hadrian VII in 1984 and David Bawden of Kansas who became Pope Michael I in 1990. Finally, among the Americans, there is Reinaldus Michael Benjamins or Gregory XIX who claims to have been crowned by angels in 1983.
Elsewhere there is Fr. Valeriano Vestini from Chieti, Italy who was declared (self-declared?) Pope Valeriano I in 1990.
Britain even has its own anti-Pope in the person of Fr. Victor Von Pentz or (since 1994) Pope Linus II who resides in Hertfordshire. Von Pentz has been twice ordained by schismatic Catholic groupings and claims to have received a consecration from a mainstream Roman Catholic bishop.
Until recently Africa had an anti-pope too, in the person of Timothy Blasio Ahitler (1941-1998). Ahitler was the leader of Legio Maria a breakaway Catholic sect founded by Melkio Ondetto. Legio Maria is based in Kenya with its headquarters near Lake Victoria. The sect curiously and incongrously combined ultra conservative Catholicism with African cultural adaptation. Thus the Latin mass was retained as was an emphasis on using the rosary. At the same time African characteristics of worship were also adopted including dancing, clapping and drumming. Legio Maria’s supporters claimed that it and not its Rome based parent, was the real Catholic Church. Ahitler took over the leadership of Legio Maria following Ondetto’s death and added the Papal title in 1991.