Another Alternative Pope – Boniface X

This revised story is one of a truly anonymous alternative pope and a howling banshee. I can only know he exists, because there is a website and my own writing has caused this person to write reams of shrill and incoherent “apologetics”.

Some years ago, an Englishman by the name of Thomas Sparks was running a website. His main thesis was that of Fr Leonard Feeney who favoured a rigourist interpretation of the doctrine extra Ecclesiam nulla salus (“outside the Church there is no salvation”). He took the position that baptism of blood and baptism of desire are unavailing and that therefore no non-Catholics will be saved. It would also seem that he promoted anti-Semitism and racism. Thomas Sparks went further and promoted full-blown Jansenism, which is based on a theory of predestination and grace based on Saint Augustine that is strikingly similar to Calvinism. The site was eventually closed down and no one heard any more from Mr Sparks. I am led to believe that he lost his Christian faith entirely and went into seclusion.

The same site was taken over by someone claiming to be pope under the name of Boniface X, undoubtedly inspired by Boniface VIII who issued the bull Unam Sanctam in 1302. This act of the papal magisterium represented the apotheosis of the claims of a pope to absolute political and temporal power.

This is quoted from his Twitter page:

In case there are liars who say otherwise, The Apostolic See acquired the electronic domain recently, and began actively using the domain in 2019. It does not approve of any errors taught by the original owners of the domain prior to 2019.

This American claiming to be pope Boniface X also runs a Twitter page on Pope Boniface X (Twitter).

It turns out that there are several claims to this name, but only one running this website. The name of Phillip Barlett is mentioned, but it could well be false. IP addresses and given phone numbers indicate that the centre of activity is Florida in the USA.

Published on 21st October 2019 on Twitter:

Boniface X wears the normal modest clothes of a layperson as often was done by Peter the Apostle. This is because there are no regular ceremonies in the Church at this time. In the event ceremonies are required and a bishop enters the Church, this may radically change.

The true Pope, Boniface X, is the one who holds to the medieval dogmas and can prove his jurisdiction. At this time there are no regular ceremonies happening due to the fact that there are no orders, and emphasis is placed at this time on holding the proper faith.

I have to conclude that, like Pope Michael in the USA, this is a layman waiting for a bishop to come from somewhere, confer the necessary ordinations (presumably in exchange for being “canonically regularised”) and making it possible to restore the sacramental life of that church. In the website, he writes “At this time the Pontiff is a layman“.

It is unlikely that this great pontiff was elected by any kind of shadowy conclave, more likely named himself. He has appointed a great emperorHis Imperial and Most Catholic Majesty, Michael Ioannes“, who even has the authority to condemn adult homosexuals to death by burning at the stake. No such executions have been known to have happened. It is unknown whether Boniface X has any followers other than the emperor.

A little research indicates several persons claiming the same name. The scholar Magnus Lundberg has “collected” about 55 alternative popes, of which some 20 would be jokes or hoaxes like Alexander IX. I received a very heavy barrage of feedback from the American Boniface X as a result of the previous version of this posting. According to Magnus Lundberg:

As I understand it, he has claimed the papacy for 13 years and all of a sudden he becomes extremely active in his internet ministry. There is one main difference between him and the other claimants. Boniface is clearly racist.

I wonder if this claim is not also a troll with a perverse sense of humour. In his feedback to me and in his site, he seems quite knowledgeable in Tridentine-style apologetics and polemics and scholastic methods of argumentation and refutation. This style is usually only to be found in the shrillest of traditionalists and sedevacantists.

Who is Boniface X? I did some searching on Google and found a number of radical traditionalist forums suggesting the name of Phillip Bartlett. Sources for such information are spurious and not from men I would trust. There is a certain Clayton, himself claiming to be pope Athanasius, who mentions Phillip Bartlett by name, saying that he was possessed by the devil! A South American source mentions the same name. Still, we are left uncertain.

To follow this new version of the posting, I have removed all the comments of Boniface X – not because I am afraid of his “truth”, but because they are extremely verbose and angry in tone. He threatens to publish them on his website against the “heretic” Chadwick, so they can be read there if you wish. I am honoured with the following promises / threats on Twitter! (I don’t use Twitter.)

The Schismatic and HERETIC Anthony Chadwick, who passes himself off as an “Anglican priest”, was devoid of any logical or legal/dogmatic proofs in his arguments, as expected from a liar and an heretic. When dogmatic arguments were given to him, he censored the most recent reply.

To anyone who reads the lies written by the SCHISMATIC ANGLICAN Chadwick, be sure to read the comments below the article as the Apostolic See ably responded to him. Of course, he blocked the most recent messages, but they will be posted at

A false and heretical priest by the name of “Anthony Chadwick” wrote some kind of screed against Boniface X and he will be thoroughly and clearly refuted at shortly in an epistle written by the Roman Pontiff against him, also exposing his obscene errors.

This posting attracted 78 views yesterday!

To resume the deleted comments, I am naturally a modernist and an apostate. I am also unstable. He seems to think the accusations of his being under diabolical possession came from me, but I was quoting pope Athanasius, a man I do not know in any way. Boniface X goes on to try to justify his claim against the others (Palmar de Troya, Michael Bawden, etc.). He then exposes my position, which is usual for an Anglican. The papal claims from Boniface VIII to Vatican I are bunk – and I will give him that one for free. He’ll have a hell of a job burning me at the stake or sawing me in half!

Of course, the Papacy could assure the unity of the Church – through constraint, political totalitarianism and terror. Dostoevsky characterised the attitude in his Great Inquisitor. The way of Christ is clearly other… Also, the Roman Catholic Church itself has changed in a more liberal direction. I abstain from commenting on the present pontificate. It is not my “thing”.

We get our fair share of conspiracy theories featuring Freemasonry. Perhaps I sympathise with the Revolutionary Jacobin Collot d’Herbois. That was a new one on me. Indeed many Jansenist bigots in the 1790’s flip-flopped and joined Robespierre. As a citizen of France, I accept the Republic and its principles of human rights. That seems to me to be fundamental. There were two main phases in the Revolution, the first elation on being rid of oppressive power in France, and then there was the fanatical and totalitarian regime of Robespierre and the Terror from 1793. Only in the late nineteenth century did France begin to find a new balance, and anti-clericalism faded away more or less after World War I. Perhaps I would see Boniface I on the guillotine, but here in Europe we don’t have capital punishment in any form or for any reason. I am not afraid of attempts to demonise me! I also have a sense of gallows humour…

I also get a little sermon about writing too much blog and not praying enough. He couldn’t possibly know, but perhaps he is right. Should I place liturgy in second place to counter-reformation scholastic polemics? Am I in rebellion against God? Good questions, and I have no pretence to virtue or holiness.  “…focusing on rites and externals instead of the dogmas of the faith proclaimed by the highest proximate rule of faith“? I have the impression of being preached at by a Calvinist. When I see how right-wing and left-wing politics collude and ultimately fight for the same thing, I could imagine a fire-breathing Boniface X in a Geneva gown denouncing the evils of alcohol and telling his congregation that they are all predestined to hell – apart from himself. Holy Willie indeed with his babies and gnashing gums! That is not the way of Christ.

I will also resume my own response, elements of which I have already given above. Many will find fault in my foray into Roman Catholicism from 1981 until 1998. My living a life of questioning and doubt may be a subject of reproach, but yet it may be a way of avoiding the Leaven of the Pharisees that comes from an excess of certainty. I am a Romantic, and have been intensely attracted to the epistemology of men like Novalis, his refusal of Foundationalism. Boniface X’s system of apologetics then becomes totally absurd in my eyes, not merely misguided but a caricature that becomes a laughing stock. Labels like “modernist” have no effect on me.

As for “being unstable”, the term is a euphemism with so many meanings that it becomes meaningless. The old Russian Soviet замполит officers had the task of ensuring that those engaged in the armed forces were stable politically, that they remained orthodox in terms of the Marxist ideology of Lenin and Stalin.

My “instability” is a very subjective notion. I certainly have more self-knowledge than my correspondent will ever have. That is irrelevant for the present discussion. I am in no obligation to justify myself. In my life, have I changed out of expedience or because evidence brought me to change my mind about certain things? Can a person not evolve? No, scholastics of the age of Torquemada would refuse all dynamism to emphasise the unchanging of God in the manner of Parmenides. Nothing in this life is stable. Everything comes into being and dies at two different moments in time, and all sorts of things happen between those two points.

I have nothing to say personally about Boniface X. I have never met him, and nor do I wish to. I quote these haunting words from Umberto Eco: “Fear prophets, Adso, and those prepared to die for the truth, for as a rule they make many others die with them, often before them, at times instead of them“. These words came into my mind when I read about pope Athanasius saying that Boniface X was suffering from diabolical possession. The evil spirits work in different ways as any exorcist will tell us. The most haunting work I ever read on the subject was Malachi Martin’s Hostage to the Devil. I heard dreadful voices one day during my stay at Triors Abbey. We do well to be afraid of the Archons of evil, but God will protect us if we want Him to.

I ask myself why people want to claim the Papacy. Some might be narcissistic personalities or suffering from schizophrenia, the usual cause of distorted belief systems. It takes a professional examining a person clinically to make a diagnosis – but anyone with some knowledge of such questions may have a suspicion that something is wrong. The more “successful” ones like Clemente Dominguez y Gomez at Palmar de Troya seem to have done it for money. Many cult gurus do. They also share the characteristics of being men without any moral conscience or care for other human beings, totally empty within. I noticed Boniface projecting that “interior emptiness” onto me. I have a certain amount of experience with these parasites of humanity.

Personally, I am elsewhere, but I do care about the possibility of such men gaining any influence. Few have any credibility to get off the ground. The Palmarians managed to build some impressive buildings and separate some wealthy people from their money. Pope Michael in America is quite active on the Internet, but seems to be an honest sort of person in his own way. Some of the historical figures like Clement XV in France and St Jovite in Canada did quite well for themselves. The French garage mechanic and pope had a small community of worshippers in his chapel. Some of the alternative popes worked from the premisses in which they believed to arrive at that conclusion, or received special revelations from supernatural causes or schizophrenia.

Of course he will deny the validity of my Orders. As a good Donatist, he would say the same of every priest and bishop on this planet! It doesn’t bother me, because I am a priest for the Church to which I belong.

I challenge Boniface X to “come out” and face his critics and competitors. I expect him to have a go at me. I am not afraid because I have nothing to lose. Christianity will survive this kind of madness which only gives fodder to atheists like Richard Dawkins, who claims that religious belief is a disease of the mind. Some religious beliefs are indeed diseases of the mind, but consciousness goes higher than either energy or matter. We need to look higher and deeper to find the Knowledge of God.

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5 Responses to Another Alternative Pope – Boniface X

  1. I wouldn’t concern yourself with people like this. They’re extremists and their strident beliefs, or obsessions, are an attempt to obviate personal inadequacies.

  2. I put up this comment on behalf of Magnus Lundberg who is interested in studying modern alternative popes among other subjects related to church history and theology. For some reason, I did not find his comment sent to this blog, not even in the spam section.

    Thank you so much for this info. I knew about Boniface X (Bartlett), but your post (and his website and twitter account) contain much more. There are several recent claimants using this or similar papal name and I haven’t sorted out the relation between the U.S. ones.

    Augustine (United States) = Boniface X?

    Bonifacio X (Italy, Antonio Margheriti Mastino)

    Boniface X (Miami, Philip Bartlett).

    Boniface Atticus, (Minnesota) “With this Byzantine rite guy my “collection” includes 55 claimants In my forthcoming book on alternative popes I will not study all of them in separate chapters, but I think that some 20 of them could be included in a fairly substantial chapter on little known and uncertain cases, and some jokes/hoaxes.

    • Many thanks for this comment. Why this urge to claim the Papacy? Narcissistic Personality Disorder seems to be the only explanation. That and distorted belief systems.

      • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

        Having read a certain amount about the Western Schism, I now wonder how frequent or long-lived a phenomenon Claimant to the See of Rome is? How many have there been at any moment down the ages? How many have been involved in attempts such as those during the Western Schism to resolve the situation? How many of the 55 claimants identified by Magnus Lundberg would be willing to meet in pursuit of such an attempt?

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