Clemente Domínguez y Gómez (May 23, 1946–March 22, 2005) was a self-proclaimed successor of Pope Paul VI, and was recognised as Pope Gregory XVII by supporters of the Palmarian Catholic Church Catholic breakway movement in 1978. His claim was not taken seriously by mainstream Roman Catholicism, the vast majority of whom were unaware of his existence.

Clemente Domínguez y Gómez, who was born in Seville, Spain, became closely associated with the Palmar de Troya movement, which had its origins in an alleged apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary on March 30, 1968 in El Palmar de Troya, a little village near Utrera in the Province of Seville. He claimed to have experienced visions of the Virgin Mary from September 30, 1969. He claimed that the Virgin in her messages condemned heresy and what was called progressivism, namely the reform of the Catholic Church underway as a result of Vatican II. His followers claimed he possessed the stigmata, the wounds of Jesus after crucifixion, on his hands. However, the Catholic Church cast doubts on the legitimacy of the alleged visions and apparitions.

Controversially ordained

In December 1975, Clemente Domínguez founded his own religious order, The Carmelites of the Holy Face, allegedly upon instructions from the Blessed Virgin Mary in an apparition. Domínguez, who assumed the name Fr. Ferdinand, was ordained bishop by Roman Catholic Archbishop, Ngô Ðình Thuc Pierre Martin. Archbishop Thuc was subsequently excommunicated for his ordinations, which were deemed valid but illicit. (Although Archbishop Thuc had the power to ordain he did not have the authority to do so from Pope Paul VI, which is a requirement for licit episcopal holy orders in Roman Catholicism.) The ordinations and the validity of Domínguez' "mission" were disputed by the Spanish Roman Catholic hierarchy.

In May 1976, Domínguez was blinded in a car accident. He claimed further visions, including visions from Jesus, who he claimed told him: You shall be the Peter to come, the Pope who will consolidate the Faith and the Church in her integrity, who shall battle against heresy with great power, for legions of Angels shall assist you... me Great Pope Gregory, Glory of the Olives...1 He also claimed that Christ had named him His sub-Vicar, with the automatic right of succession to the papacy after Pope Paul VI. On August 6, 1978, Pope Paul died and Domínguez claimed the papacy, proclaiming himself Pope Gregory XVII.

Claim to the Papacy

Domínguez claimed that he was visited by Christ, along with Saint Peter and Saint Paul, who told him

The reign of the Glory of the Olives1 has begun... A great day today, in which you are vested with the Office of Pope, on this feast of the Transfiguration on Mount Thabor,—Feastday of the Holy Face, of the Order of which you are the Founder and Father General. The great Pontificate of the Glory of the Olives begins: the Pope foretold by many mystics and in many prophecies; the Pope who unites in his veins the blood of Spain, the noble blood of Spain, with the true blood of France and with the blood of the chosen people, the Jewish people. There, the grandeur! He will not delay long before taking up the sword and fulfilling the mission of emperor and great monarch... It was also foretold in prophecies in past times how this Pope would be elected: namely through the direct intervention of the Apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul. There is no other way of opposing the official election in Conclave in Rome from which the Antipope will come... Only the simple and humble of heart will recognize the true Pope: Pope Gregory XVII.

On August 15, 1978, he was crowned pope by four of his newly created College of Cardinals in a coronation held in Seville in Spain. During his papacy, he purported to canonize Generalissimo Francisco Franco and Christopher Columbus as saints. According to his supporters, Pope Gregory XVII was destined to be the last pope, and would be crucified and die in Jerusalem.

In the 1990s, Gregory XVII was accused of sexual impropriety with several of his priests and nuns. In 1997 he admitted to it and begged forgiveness.

He died on March 22, 2005 in El Palmar de Troya, and was succeeded by Manuel Corral, who took the name Pope Peter II. Incidentally, the papacy of Gregory XVII closely overlapped that of Pope John Paul II. He died, aged only 58, a mere 11 days prior to the death of his "rival" as Pope.

Clemente Domínguez' claim to be the pope of the Catholic Church remains unaccepted by Roman Catholics, who accepted Pope John Paul I (1978) and Pope John Paul II (1978–2005) as the true successors of Pope Paul VI. Pope Gregory XVII is generally regarded as an antipope.

Other claimants to the name 'Pope Gregory XVII'

  • Jean Grégoire de La Trinité, alias Jean-Gaston Tremblay, from Canada also proclaimed himself Pope Gregory XVII back in 1968; however, it must be noted that Tremblay usually styles himself Pope John-Gregory XVII and further, that he is the self styled successor of an ultra-modernist French antipope, Michel Colin (former Roman Catholic priest of the Sacred Heart missionaries), founder of the Renovated Church of Christ in 1951 and who went under the name Clement XV since ca. 1963. In 1999 he was charged with sexual abuse of children, after a Canada-wide warrant was issued for his arrest.
  • Some right-wing Roman Catholics also claimed Giuseppe Siri (May 20, 1906- May 2, 1989) had been elected as Pope Pius XII's successor in 1958 but that his election was in effect vetoed under Communist threat that Catholics in Communist countries would be persecuted if Siri, who allegedly had announced that he wished to be known as Pope Gregory XVII, was accepted as pope. It was further alleged that Siri was again 'elected' in the 1963 conclave, only again to be vetoed in favour of Giovanni Montini who became Pope Paul VI. No convincing evidence has ever been produced to support this claim and Siri unambiguously accepted popes John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, and John Paul II in each of whose elections he took part, and died in full communion with Rome. Some say that Cardinal Siri repeatedly and categorically denied these claims.

Roman Catholic Church's view of Palmarianism

The Roman Catholic Church holds that the local Church of Rome cannot altogether lose the faith. The Church therefore sees the Palmarian claim that the See of St. Peter has been transferred from Rome to another location as a heresy. Palmarians argue that the example of the Avignon exiles of the Popes in the Middle Ages proves that the Pope may reign outside of Rome. However, the Avignon popes claimed to be and were seen as bishops of the diocese of Rome, not of a diocese of Avignon.

The Church distinguishes between public revelation and private revelation. Public revelation includes all the revelation in the Bible, as well as the oral tradition transmitted by Jesus and the Apostles. The sum of public revelation is known as the deposit of faith, and nothing can be added to or subtracted from the deposit of faith. Private revelations are those that have come to individuals or groups of people, but that "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" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 67). The object of the faith of Catholics is the deposit of faith, but Dominguez's claim to the papacy is based on something that does not belong to the deposit of faith. Moreover, Dominguez based his claim on a private revelation that contradicted the above-mentioned doctrine of the indefectibility of the local Church of Rome. The Catholic Church's view of such an alleged private revelation is expressed in the same section of the Catechism of the Catholic Church as follows: "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'."


1According to a popular understanding of the Prophecy of Saint Malachy, "Glory of Olives" is the appellation given to the penultimate pope.

See also

External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Clemente Domínguez y Gómez. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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