From its foundation in 1978, the Palmarian Church has been very text centered. It has published many documents that can serve as sources for a study of their theology. However, because of the increasingly closed nature of the church, it is not easy to get access to the texts and very little is found in research libraries. They have to be acquired in other, sometimes, complicated ways. Palmarian documents have often been published in parallel English, Spanish and German versions, but there are translations into French, Portuguese, Polish and Italian as well. They give evidence of a successive doctrinal development from a rather typical, though clearly apocalyptically-centered Catholic traditionalism, to a very different belief system.
Before 1978, the Palmarians published little apart from the long series of heavenly messages, in total covering many hundreds of pages, selections of which have been printed in many different languages. The first sizeable documents issued after the foundation of the independent church were forty-seven pontifical decrees (DP/PD), dated between 1978 and 1980; from Gregory XVII’s election to the pontificate in August 1978 until the opening of the First Palmarian Council in March 1980. They were first printed separately, but later were brought together in book form.
The Credo (CP) of the Palmarian Church is of great importance, too. In contrast to traditional Christian creeds, it is a very lengthy and detailed document, in some editions covering more than forty pages and should be read by the faithful only once a month, on the 30th. The Creed was read at the first session of the Palmarian Council on March 30, 1980, but it was later revised.
The council’s main result, however, was the Treatise on the Mass (TM), which was developed during more than a decade and not finished until 1992. It is above all a development and allegorical interpretation of biblical texts from the perspective of the sacrifice of the mass, including detailed biographies of Christ and the Virgin. The basic outline more or less follows the order of the books in the Bible, but the text is interspersed by papal teachings on a variety of subjects, breaking the chronological account.
In the Treatise, much emphasis is also put on establishing exact dates for biblical events. The Palmarians assert that the world was created 5,200 years before the birth of Christ; or to be more precise, he was born on December 25 in the year 5199 after the creation of the universe. Within this timeframe, the Treatise indicates the years, date and even the hour of events. One example is the dating of the Deluge. It is stated that the animals started to enter the Ark on December 25, 2241 years after the creation, that it started to rain on January 1, 2242, that the water reached it maximum height on May 29, and that Noah and all the others could exit the Ark on January 1, 2243 about noon (TM, chapter 35, volume 87)
The Palmarian teachings further developed at the First Palmarian synod held at the turn of the millennium (1997-2001). A result of the synod was a new Catechism (PKO) that exists in three versions, from basic via mediate to advanced level. Still, the most important outcome was the five-volume Sacred History or Holy Palmarian Bible (SH) of more than a thousand pages, printed in 2001. It elaborated further on the teachings in the Treatise on the Mass. According to Pope Gregory, he and the Synod cleansed and re-interpreted the biblical books so that they would concur with the intentions of its divine author, taking away errors inserted by humans throughout the millennia.
After the publication of the Sacred History, the doctrinal contents of the Palmarian faith have not developed much. However, in the very beginning of his pontificate, Peter II issued slightly revised versions of central texts such as the Treatise on the Mass (TM), the Palmarian Catechism (PKO) and the Palmarian Devotionary (DPA). Though not contributing with many new doctrines, the second pope’s sermons and apostolic letters are important sources to understand the views of the church in the 2000s, when the apocalyptic messages became even more central than before, and the church became even more closed to the outside world. During the pontificate of Gregory XVIII, there were new and slightly revised versions of central works such as the catechisms and the Devotionary.
It is not known if the Second Palmarian Council has resulted in any official documents yet.
Palmarian theology include traditional Catholic elements, but they are interpreted and developed by private apparitions, both to Clemente/Gregory XVII and his favorite mystics such as Spanish Conceptionist Maria of Agreda (1602-1665) and German Augustinian canoness regular Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824). Both nuns claimed very concrete visions of the lives of the Virgin and Christ, which widely expanded the contents biblical stories. To a much lesser extent, other modern mystics have contributed to the Palmarian doctrinal development.
While parts of the Palmarian teachings are similar to Roman Catholic beliefs, their understanding of the Virgin Mary differs much, and according to the Palmarians St. Joseph has a very central role in salvation history, which he does not have in Roman Catholicism. In order to understand the distinctiveness of Palmarian theology, it is therefore useful to focus on their teachings on the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph.