Alonso de Montúfar

Alonso de Montúfar

Magnus Lundberg

Unification and Conflict. The Church Politics of Alonso de Montúfar OP, Archbishop of Mexico, 1554-1572

Uppsala: Swedish Institute of Missionary Research, 2002, 268 pp.


Traducción al español por Alberto Carrillo Cázares

Unificación y conflicto. La gestión episcopal de Alonso de Montúfar, O. P., Arzobispo de México, 1554-1572,

Zamora, Michoacán: El Colegio de Michoacán, 2009, 303 p.

My doctoral dissertation (defended at Lund University in 2002) focuses on Archbishop Alonso de Montúfar OP (ca. 1489-1572). It seeks to explore two decades of sixteenth century Mexican Church History mainly through the study of documents found in Spanish and Mexican archives. Born outside Granada in Southern Spain, just after the conquest from the Muslims, Alonso de Montúfar assumed teaching and leading positions within the Dominican order.

After more than forty years as a friar, Montúfar was elected archbishop of Mexico and resided there from 1554 until his death eighteen years later. From the 1520s onwards, many missionaries went from Spain to Mexico in order to christianise the native inhabitants and to administer the church’s sacraments to them. Many of the missionaries were members of three mendicant orders: the Franciscans, the Dominicans, and the Augustinians.

Alonso de Montúfar’s time as archbishop can be seen as a period of transition and a time that was filled with disputes on how the church in Mexico should be organised in the future. Montúfar wanted to strengthen the role of the bishops in the church organisation. He also wanted to improve the finances of the diocesan church and promote a large number of secular clerics to work in the Indian ministry. All this meant that he became involved in prolonged and very animated disputes with the friars, the members of the cathedral chapter, and the viceroy of Mexico. One chapter of this dissertation is devoted to a detailed study of Archbishop Montúfar’s role in the early cult of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Tepeyac, which today has become of the most important Marian devotions in the world.

The dissertation is available in fulltext here

In 2009, the Spanish translation of the book was published by the Colegio de Michoacán

The Palmarian Church

The Palmarian Church

Apart from my main research area (colonial Latin America) for many years I have done research on the Palmarian Catholic Church, a Spanish dissenter group or, if one prefers, a new religious movement. The church has a basis in purported apparitions of Christ, the Virgin Mary and many other saints at Andalusian Palmar de Troya from the late 1960s onwards. Through the 1970, the group around the leaders Clemente Domínguez and Manuel Alonso. A new religious order was founded, clerics were ordained and consecrated and in 1978, at the death of Pope Paul VI, Clemente Domínguez claimed that he was divinely elected pope. The church of Rome had apostatisized and the Holy See was moved to Palmar de Troya. I have published two articles on the church, its organization and beliefs. One is a briefer profile, while the other is a 60-page article. They can be consulted here: Articles about the Palmarian Church

Here is another article about the Palmarians, published in Nova Religio in 2013.

Modern Alternative Popes

Modern Alternative Popes

“Modern Alternative Popes”

Magnus Lundberg

Article published online in 2015

The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) is arguably the most important event in modern Catholicism, and a major act on the twentieth-century religious scene at large. On several points, the conciliar fathers made changes in how the Catholic Church perceived the modern world. The language in the decrees was different from earlier councils’, and the bishops opened up for ecumenism and interreligious dialogue, seeing at least “seeds of truth” in other religious traditions. The conciliar fathers also voted in favour of liberty of religion, as meaning something more than the right to practise Catholic faith. A very concrete effect of the Council was the introduction of the New Mass Order (Novus Ordo Missae) in 1969 that replaced the traditional Roman rite, decreed by Pius V in 1570. Apart from changes in content, under normal circumstances, the new mass should be read in the vernacular, not in Latin as before.

Though many Catholics welcomed the reforms of Vatican II, many did not. In the period just after the end of the Council, large numbers of priests and nuns were laicized, few new priest candidates entered the seminaries, and many laypeople did not recognize the church and the liturgy, which they had grown up with. In the post- conciliar era, there developed several traditionalist groups that criticized the reforms and in particular the introduction of the Novus Ordo. Their criticism could be more or less radical, and more or less activist.

Many stayed in their parishes and attended mass there, but remained faithful to traditional forms of devotions and paid much attention to modern Marian apparitions. The apocalyptic contents of many apparitions helped them understand the crisis they saw in church and society. They can be called Catholic Conservatives. Others joined traditionalist groups that were very critical of the developments and though that the Tridentine mass was the only legitimate, but still accepted the Roman popes and episcopacy. However, a much smaller group maintained that a true pope would never accept the radical changes of Vatican II, and therefore argued that the Holy See was vacant, as the pope and the curia had become heretics. A manifest heretic could not be pontiff. Furthermore, from the 1960s onwards some individuals claimed that they had been elected true popes, either by direct divine intervention or through alternative conclaves.

In this article, I will concentrate on people (males), who have claimed or still claim that they, and not the vastly more recognized popes in Rome, are the true pontiffs. I will refer to these men as papal claimants or alternative popes. From Rome’s perspective they are antipopes, while the papal claimants denounce the popes in Rome (and other alternative popes) as antipopes, who they think have nothing to do with the Catholic Church founded by Christ.

Read my full article “Modern Alternative Popes”, written in 2015 and only published online: Modern Alternative Popes