Bryan Richard Clayton (Athanasius I, 2011-?) was born in 1975 in Chicago. He worked as a policeman and a security guard and then briefly attended the sedevacantist CMRI seminary in Omaha, Nebraska. According to some sources, he thereafter received training from a traditionalist Franciscan in Mexico. Clayton was ordained a priest around 2005, and in 2007, he was consecrated by Bishop Patrick Taylor of the Society of the Virgin Mary, who resided in Buckley, West Virginia.

Taylor’s apostolic succession is related to a vast array of apostolic lineages. He was consecrated by three bishops: Michael Boucher, Denis Michel Garrison, and Paul Dolan. Their apostolic successions include the Arnold Harris Mathew Old Catholic lineage, as well as Russian, Ukrainian, Ethiopian and Greek Orthodox and the Duarte Costa Brazilian Catholic lineages. Taylor was later conditionally consecrated by sedevacantist prelate, Bishop Merril Adamson of the Thuc lineage through Christian Datesson.

In 2009 and 2010, Bryan Richard Clayton signed a number of extensive pastoral letters as the Commissary Apostolic of Saints Peter and Paul and leader of the Order of Friars Minor of the Original Observance. He travelled around the United States, specialising in exorcisms. At around that time, he also appears as the leader of the Crusaders of the Most Holy Face. He was attached to a chapel in Boston, but left or was forced to leave from there, and relocated to Spokane, Washington.

In November 2010, Clayton announced a forthcoming conclave to elect a new pope. He had a different position to sedevacantism than the vast majority of the advocates of the thesis. According to him, Pius X was the first in the series of antipopes. According to Clayton, he was a mason or at least an agent of masons. In his view, masons got a hold of the curia from the mid-nineteenth century onwards, and successively destroyed the Roman Catholic Church from within. To him, Leo XIII, who died in 1903, was the last true pope and there had been a sedevacancy at least since 1911 when Pius X reformed the Roman Breviary. Popes Pius X through John XXIII lost their offices, but from Paul VI onwards, the Roman popes are antipopes as they headed a religious group that is not the church that was founded by Christ, but another religion.

Therefore Clayton and a few followers concluded that a conclave was necessary. They argued according to the principle of epikeia: if there were no true cardinals, then bishops should take part, together with priests and male laity. The conclave was held in December 2011. Fifteen men were invited and nine of them posted their ballots after taking an oath of the true Catholic faith, as Clayton saw it, and abjured earlier false beliefs. On Christmas Eve 2011, the ballots were opened, and Clayton received all votes and accepted the papacy. He now claimed to be Pope Athanasius I of The Holy, Apostolic, Universal, and Catholic Church.

Already in early 2012, he had replaced the Latin words with a Hebrew version, which led at least some of the few adherents to think that he had excommunicated himself.  By 2013, the name of the church was changed to the Hasidean Catholic Church. According to Athanasius I, the decision was taken so that this true church could be easily distinguished from the Novus Ordo church. For the same reason, he wore an Eastern Orthodox habit and not the papal white. Still, the new church seems to have had a special mission to convert Jews, and the Old Testament and the Hebrew language has an unusually strong position. By now (2019) the web page of the Hasidean church is discontinued and it was not updated after 2013. There are, however, claims that former adherents gathered to a council in 2018 to state that Athanasius I had excommunicated himself already in 2013 when he changed the words of consecration.

References

The webpage www.trueromanratholic.com is discontinued, for a cached version, see http://web.archive.org/web/20120419165058/http://trueromancatholic.com/

The webpage www.hasideans.org is discontinued; for a cached version, see https://web.archive.org/web/20140212224522/http://www.hasideans.org/

There are two 2013 speeches by Athanasius I, available on Youtube, see

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30ThveQSncQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyhJt5zfcvk

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