The Episcopal Consecration
of Lucien Pulvermacher as
Pope Pius XIII
Let me do an introduction to the Katholic Krazies for those of you who lead a simple life unaffected by fellow Catholics and Catholic claimants who cover the spectrum from merely angry to “crazy as an outhouse rat.”
I am going to begin at the extreme of the delusional and work my way back in towards the merely unhappy dissatisfied Catholic, but even so it is difficult to know exactly where to start.
Let me begin by talking about sedevacantism as most of the extreme wing nuts are one or another variation of sedevacantists—though not all sedevacantists are crazy. Sedevacantism is the theory that should a pope fall into heresy, he ipso facto ceases to be pope and thus the Chair of Peter is empty. Classic sedevacantists can live with the tension of no one in the papal chair, but the extreme wing-nut variety finds this too disconcerting and resorts to one method or another of filling the supposedly empty shoes of the fisherman.
Several people claim to have been appointed to be Pope directly by God through a private revelation. Indeed there is an alternative Catholic Church in Spain, the Iglesia Católica Palmariana (Palmarian Catholic Church) situated in El Palmar de Troya, Spain. This Church has produced three “popes” since its founder Clemente Domínguez Gómez, a thirty-two year old well-known figure among the gay community in Seville, declared that Christ had come to him and appointed him to succeed Paul VI when Paul died in 1978. He styled himself as Gregory XVII and among his papal acts was to canonize General Francisco Franco, the Spanish dictator who died in 1975 and Christopher Columbus. (You can’t make this stuff up!) He was succeeded by Manuel Alonso Corral as Peter II and he, in turn, on his death was succeeded by Sergio María, still gloriously reigning as Gregory XVIII.
There are about a dozen other popes supposedly appointed directly by Jesus in some sort of mystical consecration or private revelation. A figure we will hear more about in a future posting is Francis Konrad Schuckardt who founded the Sedevacantist group the Congregation of Mary Immaculate, Queen and the Tridentine Latin Rite Catholic Church. In 1984 Schuckardt was ousted from control of these organizations by a disgruntled disciple named Dennis Chicoine and the majority of members followed Chicoine; Shuckhardt and a small group of loyalists continued as the Tridentine Latin Rite Catholic Church while the rebel faction changed their name to the Latin Rite Catholic Church. Schuckardt told his followers that Christ had appointed him as Pope, the papal office being empty due to the “heresy” of Paul VI. Schuckardt died in 2006.
In 1977 an Episcopalian priest by the name of Chester Olszewski named himself Pope Chrisekial Elias. Olszewski was never received into the Catholic Church, thus giving people the opportunity to say “no” when asked “Is the Pope Catholic?” Now if we could only do something about the mess the bears are making in the woods. He later changed his regnal name to Peter II. I can’t quite find out if he is still around or not, but there are plenty of these pseudo-popes to go around, so no worry.
In addition to the various popes whom Jesus appointed directly there are also a number of popes who have been elected by what might best be called “extra-canonical conclaves.” The reasoning goes like this: the papacy being vacant due to the heresy of the alleged incumbent (John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, Benedict and now Francis) and the College of Cardinals likewise contaminated by heresy, it falls upon responsible groups of the Catholic faithful laity who have preserved the authentic faith to join in conclave and elect a pope.
The most famous of these popes was Pius XIII, aka Lucien Pulvermacher, a Capuchin priest disgruntled with the changes of Vatican II who was chosen Pope on October 24, 1998 by electors voting via telephone (as the expense of actually gathering would have been prohibitive). Pius was consecrated Bishop and assumed his papacy in a rented hotel ballroom in Kalispell Montana by Gordon, Cardinal Bateman on July 4, 1999. There were 28 of the “faithful” present. In a sort of strange clerical roundabout, or an apostolic short-circuit, Cardinal Bateman himself had been ordained to the priesthood some weeks earlier by Pius XIII. Pius XIII died in 2009. Bateman seems to have been the only Cardinal created by Pius and later broke with him.
Pius XIII might have been the best known of the conclavist popes, but the most interesting—by far—is one David Bawden, aka Pope Michael, of Delia Kansas. Like other sedevacantists, David and his parents, Kennett and “Tiki” Bawden, believed the Chair of Peter was empty due to the heresy of its claimants—again, Popes John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II and—well you know the story. They had not begun as sedevacantists—nobody does. Initially they were just disturbed by the “changes” of Vatican II. They affiliated initially with the Society of Saint Pius X, a group of priests and laity who followed Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in rejecting the teachings and practices of the Second Vatican Council. Young David, while still in his teens, went off to a seminary run by the Lefebvre group but was dismissed for unspecified reasons. From there the Bawdens drifted into sedevacantism and then, deciding that the Church needed a pope, gathered a conclave of six people—including David, Kennett, and Tiki. David, then 30 years old, came out of the conclave as Pope Michael. His Vatican in exile is the family’s frame farmhouse where clad in a white cassock the Pope helps with the farm chores and teaches his two seminarians via the internet after beginning the day by celebrating Mass in the pre-conciliar rite. He was ordained priest and consecrated bishop (the Pope must be a bishop) some 21 years after his election by a bishop of the National Catholic Apostolic Church. It must have been difficult for him to submit to ordination from a bishop not under his jurisdiction but it would have been impossible for him otherwise to become a bishop and without being a bishop he cannot claim to be pope, a fact that eluded him for those twenty years. Well, actually one could make this stuff up, but why bother when the Krazies’ stories are better than anything I could think of?
There have been several other conclavist claimants to the papal throne but recognition seems always to go to that guy in Rome. Sorry Michael and Pius and Gregory (all of you Gregories) and whoever else but possession, after all, is nine tenths of the law. And, to boot, securus judicat orbis terrarum as Saint Augustine was inclined to say. Since y’all love the Latin so much, no need to translate it for you. For you Vatican II types, the translation will appear in the next posting on this topic.