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Conclavism is the belief and practice of some who, claiming that Pope Francis and other recent occupants of the papal see are not true popes, elect someone else and propose him as the true pope to whom the allegiance of Catholics is due.
A similar phenomenon is that of those (referred to as "mysticalists") who base their claim to the papacy on supposed personal supernatural revelations.
Conclavism as a phenomenon is inextricably linked with sedevacantism, which itself developed in the late 1960s and 1970s, in the years following the Second Vatican Council. Though the sedevacantist pioneer Fr. Joaquín Sáenz y Arriaga of Mexico advocated holding a papal election in the mid-1970s and a number of other traditionalists discussed the idea in the following years, conclavism was primarily a movement of the 1990s, associated in particular with the English-speaking world.
The first of the papal claimants listed below, Pope Michael, began to promote the idea of a papal election in the late 1980s. Ultimately, he circulated notices to the editors of all sedevacantist publications that he could find, and notified all priests listed in a directory of traditionalists as being sedevacantists, sending in all over 200 copies of a book that he had written to recipients in 20 countries.
A U.S. traditionalist Catholic, Ken Mock, is sometimes credited with being the father of the conclavist movement. Mock's actual record of involvement in the various elections seems somewhat ambivalent. In the Bawden case, Pope Michael claims that Mock arrived the day before the election and attempted to stop it; he also claims that Mock later told Von Pentz that he (Michael) had abdicated in favour of him, and that he tried to stop the Von Pentz election. He was involved in the preparations for the election of Pulvermacher, but he reportedly lost faith in him, coming to believe that he was rigging the election in his favour.
Conclavist claimants to papacy
- Mirko Fabris (Pope Krav I) (1978-2012), elected in Zagreb, Croatia, died in 2012.
- Pope Michael (1990). In 1990, Teresa Stanfill-Benns and David Bawden of Kansas in the USA, called for a conclave to elect a pope. They publicised their request around the world, but only six people participated in the election. On July 16, 1990, the six gathered in Belvue, Kansas, and elected Bawden who took the name Pope Michael.
- Pope Linus II (1994). Another conclave, this time held in Assisi, Italy, elected the South African Victor von Pentz, an ex-seminarian of the Society of St Pius X, as Pope Linus II in 1994. Linus took up residence in Hertfordshire, England.
- Pope Pius XIII (1998-2009). In October 1998, the U.S.-based "true Catholic Church" elected Fr. Lucian Pulvermacher as Pope Pius XIII. He died November 30, 2009. No successor has been named since.
- Pope Leo XIV (2006-2007). On 24 March 2006 a group of 34 episcopi vagantes elected the Argentine Oscar Michaelli as Pope Leo XIV. On his death on 14 February 2007, he was succeeded by Juan Bautista Bonetti, who took the name of Pope Innocent XIV, but resigned on 29 May 2007. He was succeeded by Alejandro Tomas Greico, who took the name of Pope Alexander IX.
Technically distinct from the above conclavist antipopes is the category of "popes" (sometimes called "mysticalists") whose claims to the papacy derive from alleged divine revelations or apparitions. In these cases, there is no "conclave" process, and hence the term "conclavism" is arguably inappropriate.
- The leaders of the Palmarian Catholic Church: Clemente Domínguez y Gómez (Pope Gregory XVII, 1978-2005), Manuel Alonso Corral (Pope Peter II, 2005-2011), and Sergio Maria (Pope Gregory XVIII, since 2011). Their group was the first post-Vatican II antipope to come to wide public notice.
- Pope Emmanuel, the Italian Gino Frediani (1913–1984), a priest of Gavinana, who asserted his claim in 1973.
- Pope Peter II, Chester Olszewski of Pennsylvania, a former Episcopalian priest, who asserted his claim in 1977 or 1980
- Pope Gregory XIX, the American Reinaldus Michael Benjamins, who asserted his claim in 1983.
- Pope Adrian VII, better known to American Catholics as Francis Schuckardt of the Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen, who asserted his claim in 1984.
- Pope Peter II, born Maurice Archieri, living in Paris or Le Perreux, France, who asserted his claim in 1995.
- Pope Peter Romanus II, born William Kamm of Cologne, Germany, a convicted sex offender currently in prison in Australia. Kamm, who is known as the "Little Pebble", apparently does not currently pretend to the papacy, but is claimed to be the next pope in waiting.
- Pope Peter II, born Aime Baudet, of Brussels, Belgium.
- Pope Peter II, born Julius Tischler, a German, about whom little is apparently known.
- Pope Peter-Athanasius II, who lives, according to different sources, in Brussels or in Canada.
- Pope Leo XIV, of Angoulême, France.
- Pope Joseph I, of Lucerne, Switzerland.
- Pope Gregory XVII, the Québécois successor to "Clement XV" (Michel Collin).
Alleged divine appointment was also the basis for the pre-Vatican II (1950) claim of Michel Collin to the papacy as Clement XV. Colin's sect survives, divided into different factions, to this day.
- Link to Letter
- Wamego Times 1990
- George D. Chryssides, Historical Dictionary of New Religious Movements (Rowman & Littlefield 2011 978-0-81087967-6)
- 10 Most Bizarre People on Earth
- Claudio Rendina, La santa casta della Chiesa (Newton Compton Editori 2010 ISBN 978-8-85412683-1)
- Pope Michael, 54 Years That Changed the Catholic Church (Christ the King Library 2011 ISBN 978-1-45649509-1), p. 140
- Michael W. Cuneo: The Smoke of Satan: Conservative and Traditionalist Dissent in Contemporary American Catholicism (JHU Press, 1999 ISBN 0-8018-6265-5, ISBN 978-0-8018-6265-6), pp. 121–134
- "Pope Clement XV" Time magazine, (15 March 1971)