The other pope

Western Mail and Echo Ltd./December 1, 2007

Just hours after the death of Pope John Paul II there were nearly 140 items for sale on eBay with a connection to the pontiff. Commemorative coins, mugs, figurines, thimbles, records, plates, T-shirts, videos, a gold-plated bust and even a charity cross-stitch pattern of the Pope were up for auction.

While some cashed in and others mourned the passing of 'God's athlete', a small cult-like Catholic group known as the Order of the Last Times believed the real Pope had died in March.

Former insurance company accountant, Clemente Dominguez, was ordained as a priest in 1975 and founded the Order of the Last Times.

After a car crash left him blind, he claimed to have seen visions of Jesus, who told him, 'You shall be the Peter to come, the Pope who shall battle against heresy with great power, for legions of Angels shall assist you.'

His ordination, which wasn't authorised by Pope Paul VI, saw him excommunicated. And when Pope Paul VI died in 1978, Dominguez proclaimed himself Pope Gregory XVII.

He chose the southern Spanish town of El Palmar de Troya as the new Papal seat and lived there with his followers in a sprawling cathedral-like complex perched on a hill.

In the Seventies, Dominguez's church attracted thousands of converts, mainly from America, Spain and Ireland.

To his followers, their leader was known as the 'last Pope' and they believed his death would prepare the way for the Second Coming of Christ.

The Mayor of El Palmar de Troya, Manuel Garcia Alonso, said the cause and exact date of his death was unknown.

Though his death will be of no significance to millions of Roman Catholics, to his followers, it is a sign that Armageddon is coming.

MS Wheelchair Wisconsin has been stripped of her title because beauty contest organisers say she can stand - and point to a newspaper picture as proof. Janeal Lee, who has muscular dystrophy and uses a scooter, was snapped standing among her high school maths students.

She said, 'I've been made to feel as if I can't represent the disabled citizens of Wisconsin because I'm not disabled enough.

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