Pope excommunicates seven Vietnamese

United Press International/April 7, 1983

Pope John Paul II excommunicated Vietnamese Archbishop Peter Martin Ngo Dinh Thuc and six men he ordained as bishops because of their connection with the "antipope" in Spain, the Vatican said Thursday.

The archbishop is a brother of the late President Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam, who was assassinated in November 1963.

The six "illegitimate" bishops comprised an American, a Frenchman, and four Mexicans.

A document from the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith dated March 12 said Thuc, 85, and the six men consecrated illegally by him or by his substitute had been banished from the church.

The document said the Congregation made its ruling "by special mandate" of the pope.

It was the second time Thuc was excommunicated. In 1976 he was ousted for illegally ordaining and making a bishop of Clemente Dominguez, a Spaniard who since has declared himself "pope" and set up his own church near Seville.

But the archbishop later publicly repented and the Vatican lifted his first excommunication in 1977.

The Vatican document said that since his first excommunication was lifted, Archbishop Thuc has declared publicly that he believes the "See of St. Peter to be empty," meaning he does not recognize legitimate papal authority and pledges allegiance to Dominguez.

The document said Thuc consecrated three illegitimate "bishops," Guerard de Lauriers, a Frenchman, and Moise Carmona and Adolpho Zamora, both Mexicans. Carmona, in turn, illegitimately made bishops of two other Mexicans, Benigno Bravo and Roberto Martinez, and George Musey, an American.

Church officials in Seville said Dominguez, 38, started his church after he claimed to have visions of the Virgin Mary in El Palmar de Troya, a village near Seville.

The local church ruled the visions were not worthy of belief and denied Dominguez' requests for priests so he could start his own religious order.

In 1978, when Pope Paul VI died, Dominguez proclaimed himself the "real" pope of the Roman Catholic Church. He took the name "Pope Gregory XVII," ordained his own priests, bishops and cardinals, and constructed his own "Vatican City," a compound outside Seville.

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