Theologically, the Order of Saint Charbel is a cult of Catholicism. Sociologically the group has many cultic elements as well.
[See: Sociological vs. theological definitions]
The sect - which claims an association with the Catholic Church - is headed by Malcolm Broussard, who practiced as a Catholic priest in the US.
Fr Broussard was this week excommunicated from the Catholic Church.
NSW-based Father Broussard has proclaimed on his website to be the Order of St Charbel's first bishop.
The order has communities at Tyaak, near Seymour, and Meredith, near Geelong, as well as in NSW and South Australia.
But in a decree this week, Bishop of Wollongong Peter Ingham said Fr Broussard had been excommunicated from the Catholic Church after trying to have himself ordained a bishop without a mandate from the Pope.
It is the fourth decree issued by the church against the Order of St Charbel.
The founder of the sect said the ordination - conducted in Germany on March 30 - did not require the Pope's mandate and the decree meant nothing.
Self-proclaimed prophet William Kamm, known as the Little Pebble, said Fr Broussard's ordination came through the Thuc Line, which already had a special mandate from Pope Pius IX.
The Order is said to have about 500,000 followers in 160 countries - including more than 600 in Australia.
Mr Kamm claims he has made up to 570 prophecies, with more than 265 coming true.
The group's prophet is the recently jailed William Kamm (who is referred to as "Little Pebble."
Kamm claims that the 'Virgin Mary' gives him prophies - such as the one in which he prophesied that a comet would hit the earth in 1998, or the one in which he said a comet would destroy the Earth before 2001.
Kamm has also claimed that he would succeed John Paul II as pope.
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