Self-proclaimed pope and eight "bishops" of tiny sect narrowly ecaped lynching

United Press International/May 18, 1982

A self-proclaimed pope and eight "bishops" of his tiny sect narrowly ecaped lynching when some 200 people attacked them, fearing they would try to steal relics from a convent, authorities said today.

Police said Clemente Dominguez, who calls himself Pope Gregor X, and his followers burst into a Carmelite convent in Alba de Tormes in western Spain Monday night, shouting insults against a leader of the order.

Dominguez, who failed entrance exams into a seminary, proclaimed himself pope in 1978 after the death of Pope Paul VI, saying the pope in Rome "was controlled by free masons and communists."

The eight men who came with him to Alba de Tormes are called bishops by sect members, who maintain a large cathedral in the village of Palmar de Troya,where Dominguez said he had visions of Mary.

Some 15 pilgrims visiting the convent to prepare for Pope John Paul II's visit to Spain in October heard the cries when Dominguez quarreled with the Carmelite leader, who ushered Dominguez and his "bishops" into the street.

Another 200 people rushed to the convent when the Carmelites rang the bells, apparently fearing the men would try to snatch the relics of Santa Teresa de Jesus from the convent chapel.

Police said the crowd stoned Dominguez and his followers and dragged them from their two cars when the sect members tried to flee.

Roman Acevedo, mayor of Alba de Tormes, tried to calm the crowd but could not stop them from beating the intruders until Civil Guards arrived and took Dominguez and his members away.

"I tried to stop them from lynching these people, but it was close," Acevedo said.

The nine were treated for their injuries in a Carmelite clinic, police said. A judge released them after booking them for disturbing the peace, police said.

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