Rome ban rocks Little Pebble

Sunday Herald Sun/June 23, 2002
By Shelley Hodgson

An odd Victorian doomsday cult, which police believe has stockpiled weapons in preparation for the end of civilisation, has been banned by the Vatican.

Rome wants the cult's members to disassociate themselves with leader William Kamm, who calls himself the Little Pebble.

The Catholic Church has issued a decree against the self-styled prophet and his Order of St Charbel.

It covers the Victorian headquarters for the order, the community of the Sacred Heart in Tyaak, near Seymour, and the community of the Most Precious Blood, at Meredith, near Geelong.

Mr Kamm, who claims to receive messages from the Virgin Mary and believes he will become Pope Peter II, said this week he and his communities would defy the decree.

In the decree, Bishop of Wollongong William Ingham ordered Mr Kamm to disband his movements throughout Australia and the world and stop all activities contrary to the teaching, authority and discipline of the Catholic Church.

Father Peter Comensoli, chancellor of the Wollongong Diocese, said the decree, the second to be issued by the church against the order, was a direct instruction from the Vatican. "Kamm has been for years saying 'I won't accept anything unless it comes from the Pope', " Father Comensoli said.

The Holy See, which approved the decree, was part of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he said.

"When the congregation speaks, it speaks in the name and authority of the Pope.

"When Kamm rejects this he is rejecting the Pope.

"If, as he claims, he is a Catholic, as a loyal Catholic he should be acting as the church asks him to," Father Comensoli said.

"The church has made a very clear and unambiguous statement that Mr Kamm is not a legitimate expression of the church."

Father Comensoli said Mr Kamm's claims were false and his sect damaging to those caught up in it.

Mr Kamm claimed this week he had made upn to 570 prophecies, about 250 of which had come true.

In 1997, Mr Kamm predicted that the Hale-Bopp comet would collide with the sun, causing an explosion that would wipe out most of life on Earth.

In 2000, police raised fears that the cult, which has headquarters in Nowra, NSW, was stockpiling weapons, food and clothing in preparation for the Apocalypse.

This followed Mr Kamm's 2000 prediction that Earth would be destroyed if a comet collided with Mars or one of its moons on May 5 or 28 when eight planets aligned.

Mr Kamm said the Order of St Charbel had about 500,000 members in 160 countries, 500 in Australia.

He claimed the decree was unjust, contrary to Church law and did not come from the Pope.

"There's no way anyone from the order will shift," Mr Kamm said.

He wants a full ecclesiastical investigation.

"We will proceed as before, nothing will change until the church acknowledges they have made an error or they open an investigation."

Just days before the decree was made, Mr Kamm announced plans to sue the Holy See, the Sydney and Melbourne Archdiocese and the Wollongong Diocese for "defamation, discrimination, calumny and deception".

"Last week I said I was going to take the church to court; five days later I get this decree hit on my head -- on a Sunday, which is very unusual by the way," Mr Kamm said.

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