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Bishop warns Filipinos over support to anti-pope

Philippine-born Rogelio Martinez, 53, was 'elected pope' in a conclave in Kansas, US on July 23
Rogelio Martinez, who claimed himself as Pope Michael II, speaks during a program in Bulacan province of the Philippines in this undated image

Rogelio Martinez, who claimed himself as Pope Michael II, speaks during a program in Bulacan province of the Philippines in this undated image. (Photo: Oliver Jurabao)

Published: September 05, 2023 10:17 AM GMT
Updated: September 05, 2023 02:43 PM GMT

Filipino Catholics who support and join celebrations including liturgy officiated by the leader of a schismatic group face the risk of excommunication, says a top Catholic bishop.

Bishop Jose R. Rojas of Libmanan, chairman of the Episcopal Commission of Doctrine of the Faith of the national bishops’ conference said that Rogelio Martinez, who claims himself as Pope Michael II, is not a Catholic priest.

“They are not in communion with the Catholic Church. He is not a Catholic priest, thus, it is impossible for him to be a bishop, more so, pope,” Rojas told UCA News on Sept. 4.

He said the commission has received reports that “a successor of a certain pope named Michael I” is visiting the country and deceiving Catholics to join his fraternity.

Any religious celebration officiated by Martinez is “void” and Catholics who support him face “automatic excommunication” as per the church laws, he warned.

“The penalty for schematics is automatic excommunication. The Code of Canon Law attaches automatic ex-communication to apostates, heretics, and schismatics but of course, the gravity and full consent of the act have to be evaluated on a case-to-case basis,” Rojas added.

He also said the commission members are discussing the next course of action, adding that they are aware of a social media campaign to draw membership for the group.

Philippine-born Martinez, 53, was reportedly “elected pope” in a conclave in Kansas, US, on July 23.

Martinez reportedly succeeds US national David Badwen, who took the name Michael I. He was a former member of the traditionalist group named Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), or Lefebvrists, founded by late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1970.

Martinez was elected about a year in the US after Badwen’s death on Aug. 2 last year.

Badwen broke ties with the SSPX in the 1980s and declared himself pope in 1990. He claimed all popes since the death of Pope Pius XI in 1958 were “modernists, heretics and apostates” making their elections invalid.

Badwen reportedly named the group “Vatican in Exile” which has about 100 members.

Since his arrival in the Philippines on Aug. 1, Martinez has been visiting Catholics, attending religious gatherings and officiating Mass, local sources confirmed.

Photos on social media sites showed he has been claiming himself as the “supreme pontiff” of the Catholic Church, in San Jose del Monte City in Bulacan province, north of Manila, in one of the events.

On Aug. 5, Martinez was welcomed in a motorcade by his followers in Bulacan province where he celebrated a Mass with his followers.

Christina Penaranda, a follower from “Pope Michael II parish” in Bulacan province says she supports him because “the pope in Rome is not the real one.”

“We call ourselves a parish because that is based on the Bible. We are the true Catholic Church because the pope in Rome is not the real one. The true pope was unseated… There was politics in the Vatican,” Penaranda, 43, told UCA News.

She was among the participants who joined “the crowning ceremony” of Michael II in San Jose del Monte City in Bulacan on Aug. 28.

Penaranda said she and her children were members of the Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church. They joined the “Vatican in Exile” group in 2017 and now pledge their allegiance to Michael II.

“We are Catholics, but the jurisdiction of the parish belongs to Pope Michael II, thus we welcome him here. This is his parish,” Penaranda added.

Father Ranhilio Aquino, a seminary professor and legal expert, noted that the Church cannot allow schism in the name of maintaining unity in the church.  

“The point is to firmly stand against all such schisms. There is only one Pope. His name is Francis, successor to Benedict XVI, successor to John Paul II,” Aquino told UCA News.

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3 Comments on this Story
It is completely INCORRECT that David Badwen (aka Michael I) was a former member of the SSPX. He merely briefly attended seminary at the SSPX in the 80s, and was never ordained. In fact, he considered himself Pope despite being a lay person for the first 20 or more years of his "pontificate", and got a dubious "ordination" another way eventually.
This is why you're just a cheap news site. FAKE NEWS. There is no CHRISTINA PENARANDA living in our local area and a member of the church.
The conclave was in Vienna - not Kansas
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