We have in this testimony a unique lens to look behind the walls of this very sinister group who are developing into a very controlled entity. Joshua wrote to us and we were delighted to publish his story. Any former Palmarian or person struggling with similar issues in the Palmarians should contact us and we will put you in touch with Joshua.
Here is what Joshua wrote,
Hi,I wrote a piece on my experience with the Palmarian Church some months ago, I’ve decided to update it given the recent events around the group. I’ve attached a copy of my complete testimony as a youth of this group through the years 1991 to 2015. Hopefully you will find it useful, feel free to publish it or use it as a reference.The work your organisation has done on reporting the facts on this group has been an invaluable source of information for countless people that have been cut of from their families by this group.
Since news about the 22 of April escape of Pope Gregory XVIII from Palmar de Troya was made public there have been many articles about the matter in the Spanish press. The combination of a hermetically closed religious group and a pope leaving to live with his girlfriend, claiming that he does not believe in the church teachings anymore was the catalyst for bringing this seriously cultist issue to the public’s attention. Ginés Jesús Hernández according to this article has been running a mind controlling cult and his soft cuddly exit is nothing more than a three card trick…..
A Palmarian Testimony 1991 – 2015
Very few people from the era of the Palmarians that I left will ever speak openly about what they have experienced. The Palmarian Catholic Church changed drastically under the Pope who came to power on July 16h 2011. In a little under four years the Palmaians has experienced an exodus of youth en masse as a result of Gregory XVIII’s extreme and irrational actions. These have included:
• Eviction of ex-members from family homes above the age of 18, be they at school or a university student, regardless if they have any financial independence.
• Obligatory signing of a document that declares the member accept these terms of eviction if they were ever to leave.
This “agreement” is enforced at the age of 10 and upwards.
• Increased pressure through teachings and peers to “find a state in life”, which was becoming dangerously close to arranged marriage.
• Deliberately concealing the death of its members from non-Palmarian relatives and friends.
• Near complete social isolation from the outside world. I was born in the year 1991 into a Palmarian family of six, my mother, father, and three sisters. My extended members of my family who were Palmarian at that time included my father’s parents, his brother, and great uncle. I became a 3rd generation Palmarian by birth. For 23 years I lived the life of a Palmarian Catholic. During that time I witnessed the transition from a moderate New Religious Group to that of an extremist organisation that no longer represented my understanding of a rational human being. I was the 4th member of my family to leave Palmarian Church, and the first in over a decade. My family originally became entangled in the Palmarian Church through my Father’s parents both of which made several trips to El Palmar de Troya during the time of Clemente’s claimed visions. They became Palmarian in the year 1978 followed by my Father and his brother, both in their late teens. Two of my family members have died Palmarian and were declared “saints”, five of my family, including myself, have left.
There has been a lot of speculation regarding the exact number of members both in Ireland and worldwide belonging to this movement. The last official figure I received before leaving came from the Irish Missionary who claimed that there were between 130-140 faithful in Ireland. In conjunction with that an encyclical, an official publication from Gregory XVIII, stated there are fewer than 2000 members worldwide . There are another 250 in Germany and the Swiss regions, around the same number in Nigeria, fewer than a hundred in Spain, the rest are distributed throughout the Americas, Philippines, and the UK. Their numbers have been slowly dwindling since the 1990’s, during the 23 years I was Palmarian there was no growth. At this point they are completely dependent on growth through existing members.
My experience with this group has left long lasting scars in my personal life. At the age of 11 it was at the centre of my parents divorce,and it effected my mother’s mental health badly. The strict regime imposed by my father led my older sister to rebellion, and I didn’t see her for an entire decade after she left the home. During my teenage years I spent time in social care and was deprived of a mother. I returned to my father and Palmarians after a brief period of separation at the age of 13. Even back in 2005 I saw a fundamental shift in the tone coming from Palmarian Church. The rules were getting tighter and communication was slowly being limited, and as a result I lost a lot of good school friends.
At the age of 18 I had little choice but to cut off communication with my mother, then an ex-member. Part of me died that day, as I felt that I would never again communicate with her. The most dramatic shift in recent years had been under Gregory XVIII’s reign, something the outside world knows little about due to Palmarian Church’s secretive nature where:
• All correspondents are distributed in person, via private text messages, or word of mouth.
• Documents are no longer sent in the post but received in person.
• There is zero discussion on the Palmarians teaching with non or ex-members.
Through 2011 to 2012 Gregory XVIII also clamped down on all forms of media by banning cinema, television, newspapers, magazines, video games, and virtually all communication with nonmembers[2.] These regulations virtually cut off its faithful from the outside, but most importantly they isolated the youth. A group that can be easily moulded and influenced, who must either follow blindly, or face the consequences. The reality today is the hard fact of becoming disowned and homeless.
In 2012 I witnessed the exodus of youth in Ireland and across the world, I lost more friends in that year than ever before. As a result of this I suffered a serve breakdown, I should have left then. Instead I endured a long term depression that would resurface 3 years later. This is something that the Palmarian Church youth are forced to endure. It does not matter how close you were to that person, you have been mentally moulded to forget about them. They’ll never be apart of your life again, this has had long term effects on my ability to make new friends in a life without the Palmarians. The older the person is the tougher it is to leave, as you have no past other than the one you would rather forget. Understanding this is crucial to treating former members who have been enclosed in an alternative reality where their thoughts and actions were influenced not by reason but by fear.
During my commute to college I would from time to time encounter old school friends on the bus. They’d sit next to me expecting a warm welcome, instead I greeted them with why I couldn’t speak to them. I put myself through hell on those bus rides, I shunned old friends, avoided talkative people like the plague, and for what? I escaped Palmarian Church in my mid twenties, school was already long behind me, and I only had 3 months of college left. I came to the realise that I knew nothing about the people I had spent 4 years studying with. Unfortunately 3 months was too short a time to make any long lasting friendships, and at that point I was still struggling with my own sense of identity.
Under Gregory XVIII, as a youth, I experienced increasing amounts of pressure to make life changing decisions, such as getting married quickly or joining the religious life. I became part of a list of single youth, and I was summoned before Gregory XVIII and two other members of the Church hierarchy, and questioned on my future “state in life.” While I may not have been forced into a marriage before leaving, the threat was clear. This was the kind of control being exercised by the hierarchy late 2014 and early 2015. Prior to that in late 2012 they introduced a document of membership to be signed by anyone over the age of 10, which required me to:
• Accept the authority of the Palmarian Church including any regulations or punishments they may demand of me.
• If I leave the Palmarians I accept that since I am over the age of 18, I must leave my family home unconditionally.
• I agree to never to take legal action against the Church or any of its members.
I was forbidden from keeping a copy of this document under pain of excommunication.
It is just another example of the level of control that now exists. After battling a long and hidden depression for three years I left the Palmarians and my home early in 2015. As a student I took what little money I had, my passport, and a few other important documents, and disappeared one morning. By the time I was leaving I realised that I had nearly been completely cut off from escaping. I had only one contact detail in the outside world on my phone that still worked. I cannot stress how much my extended family helped. Without them I would have had nothing. My greatest fear is that the next generation of youth will have no means of exiting the Palmarians, as it has become harder year on year to leave it.
When I heard that Gregory XVIII had resigned, I was sceptical, it had to be just someone’s wishful thinking. The idea that the most hard line of all the “popes” in Palmarian history would abandon the Church seemed impossible. This is the man who had branded himself as the “Receiver of Christ,” established his own personality cult, and formed the so called “Red Guard.” The latter being a band of followers who would lay down their lives for him. In the end he just got up and left. Ultimately he took the cowards way out, he has been quoted as saying he “lost his faith”  and “I discovered that all that had been a sham for financial purposes” . Why he didn’t use his position as “pope” to bring these revelations to light among the faithful? Instead he left a note behind and ran anyway with his lover. Rather than using documents that could be used to expose the Palmarian Church for what it is he threatens them with blackmail .
Those inside the Palmarians are now left in the dark, they will be spoon fed nonsense by Peter III, about how Gregory XVIII lost the faith and that this is just another test. Nowhere in the Palmarians teachings is there mention of such a huge event as a “pope” apostatising in such a way. To the remaining Palmarians, this should be “the writing on the wall”. I hope this will at least make them question their blind faith and the direction that it has taken them in. In the end I found that growing up as youth in the Palmarian Catholic Church was a dehumanising experience. I felt more machine like everyday. Some days I went without speaking to another human because the rules made it impossible to do so. I was socially isolated and spent prolonged periods alone, and towards the end I sank back into depression. At first I fought it, I still wanted to believe there was some good in the Palmarians. My father used to say, “Look at the Cathedral, how could Palmar build such a thing and not be the Truth.” In the end for me, there was nothing, it has only ever brought me pain, and ultimately I left. Making the decision to leave my remaining family and friends behind has been the toughest of my entire life. You have no past, no identity, over the years I spent so much time moving for the sake of the Palmarians that I never made any connections outside of it. I can only imagine the grief and pain it shall cause for the generations that follow me.
A Palmarian Testimony 1991 – 2015
: Sermon given by His Holiness Pope Gregory XVIII on the 15th of August 2011, in the Cathedral-Basilica of Our Crowned Mother of Palmar, Gregory XVIII, 15th August 2011
: Sermon given by His Holiness Pope Gregory XVIII on the 20th of November 2011, in the Cathedral-Basilica of Our Crowned Mother of Palmar, Gregory XVIII, 20h November 2011
: Journeys to the Bizarre: the Basilica of Palmar de Troya, Nick Rider, 24th May 2016,
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