PH-born anti-Pope’s followers risk excommunication, says Catholic bishop
Filipino Catholics who support and join rites officiated by a Philippine-born self-proclaimed Pope risk 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 to be “Pope Michael II” and leads a schismatic group, 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.
Libmanan said the commission has received reports that “a successor of a certain pope named Michael I” is visiting the Philippines 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 schismatics 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 on July 23.
Martinez claims to succeed 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.
Badwen, who died on Aug. 2, 2022, 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 to UCA News.
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.”